Mistakes on I-9 forms can be corrected as long as “transparency” and “accountability” are evident.
In the face of growing and expansive multi-faceted ICE audits of employers’ records, the question often arises whether it is too late to make corrections to Forms I-9 when errors are spotted during the course of a regularly scheduled I-9 audit or in preparation for an audit. The answer is that remediation is possible and desirable as long as the two principles of “transparency” and “accountability” are scrupulously followed.
For example, corrections can be made in different colored ink to show the good faith attempt to correct the error. Corrections should be dated and initialed. Corrections should be explained and should never be back-dated. Corrections can also be explained in a memo attached to an individual I-9 or in a memo covering several corrected Forms I-9.
Be sure to keep your I-9 forms separate from your employee personnel files. Be sure to use the correct current version of the form and be sure that your employees complete the forms using a real address and not a P.O. Box. Don’t miss deadlines. Section 1 of the form must be filled out on or before the first day of work and Section 2 must be completed by the end of the third day of hire or on the first day of work if the employee starts in less than three days. Using a tickler system, employers can keep tabs of expiring documents such as EADs where re-verification is required.
Treating the Form I-9 as a living used document that needs constant attention is the best way to avoid errors. However, when errors are spotted, they can and should be corrected. You can read more about I-9 compliance at our other blog entries on this topic and at our website.