Maintaining I-9s: Top Ten Do’s and Don’ts
Don’t get sloppy with your I-9 employment eligibility verification forms.
This year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will initiate a great deal of
paperwork audits looking at I-9s. USCIS also increasingly brings cases against employers under the criminal code, rather than civil penalties. It made more than 900 criminal arrests last year, up from 72 arrests five years ago.
Penalties: Poor documentation can cost you $1000 per worker, and knowingly hiring an illegal immigrant can result in a $10,000-per-worker fine.
To sidestep potential legal trouble and discrimination complaints, follow these ten I-9 do’s and don’ts:
1. Do require all new hires to complete and sign Section 1 on their first day of work.
2. Don’t ask an applicant to complete an I-9 prior to making a job offer. Unhired applicants
can use I-9 information to allege that you discriminated against them.
3. Do review employee documents to make sure they’re on the new version of the I-9’s list of
acceptable documents and that they appear genuine. (See the new I-9 on our web site at
www.hcsiinc.com on the “Updates/News” link.)
4. Don’t ask new hires for any particular documents or for more documents than the I-9
requires. The employee chooses the documents, not you.
5. Do establish a consistent procedure for completing I-9s, and educate your hiring managers on the procedure.
6. Don’t consider the expiration date of I-9 documentation when making hiring or firing
7. Do make and retain copies of all I-9 documents provided. (Only a few states make this
mandatory, but it’s a good idea.)
8. Don’t forget to keep a tickler file to follow up on expiring documents that limit the
employee’s authorization to work. You don’t have to re-verify identity documents, such as a
9. Do keep I-9s and copies of documents for three years after the employee’s hire date or one
year after his or her termination, whichever comes first.
10. Don’t put the I-9 in an employee’s personnel file. To protect against discrimination claims,keep it and supporting documentation in a separate file.