How to fill out I-9 completely

 How to fill out I-9 completely 

 How to fill out an I-9 completely?  Every US Employer is required to keep an I-9 on file for each employee.  First here are two terms from USCIS for you to be aware of for this article.

The I-9 Form helps employers to verify employee’s identity and their authorization to work in the US.  Note that USCIS instructs employers to continue using the I-9 Form Version with the 3/31/16 expiration date until further notice. When a new form is released, we will update it here on GWHR and email the update to our subscribers.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the largest investigative arm of the Department of Homeland Security, is responsible for identifying and shutting down vulnerabilities in the nation’s border, economic, transportation and infrastructure security.  ICE regulates the I-9 Form through Audits and the E-Verify system. 

Here is the USCIS I-9 Forms From Forms Library

Startup HR: How to Fill Out an I-9 – Improperly completing an I-9 can lead to unnecessary fines.  Even misspelling and small clerical errors can cost a company hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties.  I-9 Audits and severe penalties have become very common for all company sizes.  Since 911, ICE has been tasked with investigative and administrative audits of Companies’ I-9 Forms.  When an audit is conducted, ICE only gives the company three days to turn over all documents.  Depending on the level of the errors (and they always find errors), will depend upon the amount of that penalty. The penalties can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars PER FORM.  This really adds up when you multiply it by the number of errors!  The key to note here is that ALL employer sizes are exposed to this type of investigation. Startups and small businesses should not assume that they will not be audited because they are so small.  In fact, ICE is aware of these preconceived ideas. It is also important to Note: The Spanish version of Form I-9 may be filled out by employers and employees in Puerto Rico ONLY. Spanish-speaking employers and employees in the 50 states and other U.S. territories may print this for their reference, but may only complete the form in English to meet employment eligibility verification requirements. To avoid dealing with these penalties that could have easily been prevented, it is imperative to complete your I-9’s properly and consistently.  This article will help!

This article covers the right way to complete the I-9 for each section of the form: Employee Portion, the Employer Portion, and all Acceptable Documents.

Employee Portion

Provide the employee with the I-9 form to complete within 3 days of hire.  Emailing the form in advance is a great way to ensure that the new hire brings proper documentation on their hire date. Pointing out the document list on page 9 will also help.  Pages 1 – 6 are directions on the I-9 form and its purpose.

The employee will complete page 7 section 1. They must complete every box in the top section. If no information is necessary in a box (such as the Other Names Used) they should mark “n/a” in that box. The employee must select their proper eligibility status and sign the form.  Note that the date should be their Hire Date or up to the third day of hire.  The signature date should not be earlier than the hire date.


The bottom section of Page 7 is only completed when a Translator or Preparer completes Section 1 for the employee. The Translator must sign and date this section. Then print their name and address.

STARTUP HR: How to fill out an I-9 Section 1 Translator

How to Audit Your I-9 Forms

Employer Portion

Page 8 section 2 is the employer portion of the form.  Place the employees Last Name, First Name and Middle Initial in the first box.  (In my self-audit experience, many employer representatives overlook this box.)  The next set of boxes is where you (the administrator) will enter in the documentation for the employee’s identity and employment authorization.  You can either fill in List A or fill in Lists B & C. You must physically examine the documents.  If the document does not have an expiration date (such as a Social Security Card), the employer must mark “n/a” in that box. 

STARTUP HR: How to fill out an I-9 Section 2

Complete the Certification by dating, signing and filling in all boxes in the Certification section. Pay special attention to dates – this is where many fines are assessed.

STARTUP HR: How to fill out an I-9 Section 2 Certification

Page 8 Section 3 is for Re-verification and Rehires only.  If an employee returns before 1 year, the original I-9 can be retained and used. This section is a way to re-certify the hire for your files.  You must check the expiration dates of the documents previously provided.   If they are expired, place the updated document information in the provided boxes.  Sign and Date the Re-verification Section. You must physically examine the documents again.

STARTUP HR: How to fill out an I-9 Section 3 Re-verification

Acceptable Documents

Page 9 is the List of Acceptable Documents. Note that documents cannot be expired.  Employees may present one selection from A or a combination of one selection from B and one selection from C.  

It is also very important to be aware of this notice in the USCIS I-9 Form: “It is illegal to discriminate against work-authorized individuals. Employers CANNOT specify which document(s) they will accept from an employee. The refusal to hire an individual because the documentation presented has a future expiration date may also constitute illegal discrimination.” 

In my experience, many companies tell the new hire to bring their driver’s license and social security card.  This notice states that doing this can be discriminatory.  Just looking out for you!

STARTUP HR: How to fill out an I-9 – List of Acceptable Documents

If your company is in an E-Verify Required state, you must enter the same information that is on the I-9 into the E-Verify System.  E-Verify is the internet-based system used to confirm whether an employee is either eligible or not eligible to work in the US.  When the employee’s I-9 information is run through the E-Verify system, employers can verify if the new hire is legally allowed to work in the US.  Be careful to enter in all information correctly. The system and the I-9 form must match perfectly.  Otherwise…you guessed it…penalties.

Startup HR: How to Fill Out an I-9. Learning how to properly fill out an I-9 form can save your company money, time and tons of headaches.  Also check out:  5 Steps for New Hire I-9 Forms   


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