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Form I-9 is one of the most important pieces in the new hire process. While it is only two pages long, there are several opportunities for error that can lead to trouble for your company. A new federal ruling has increased the fine for I-9 paperwork violations, putting companies at greater risk. Let’s take a look at the most common mistakes and learn how you and your team can avoid them and any future pitfalls. 

Leaving Boxes Blank: If an employee lives in a house, not an apartment, do they really need to fill out the apartment number box? Yes! Not every question may apply to each employee but it is important to complete those fields as well. Make sure employees are writing N/A in boxes that do not apply to them. A few areas to look out for blanks: 

  • Apartment Number: Employees should write N/A if they do not live in an apartment. 
  • Other Last Names Used (if any): If the employee has multiple last names or a maiden name, make sure it’s included here. If not, N/A 
  • Social Security Number (SSN): Even if employees are providing their Social Security card as a List C document, the Social Security number should still be written out in sections 1 and 2. 
  • Document Expiration Date: Be sure to include the expiration dates for all documents. 
  • Date of Hire: If the employee’s date of hire is missing, the form is considered incomplete. 

Making Sure Both Pages Match: I-9 Section 1 and Section 2 need to have matching information to be valid. Pay attention to the marked citizenship status and what documents the employee provides you. Fields to keep a close eye on: 

  • Employee Name: The name at the top of Section 2 needs to match the full name in Section 1, as well as the documents provided. 
  • Citizenship/Immigration Status: Make sure the employee is supplying the proper documents to support their selection from Section 1. For example, they cannot select US Citizen and provide an Authorization to Work in the US card. 

Incorrect Information: It may seem obvious, but it is the employer’s job to make sure the I-9 is filled out completely and provides all the necessary information. Areas that are often overlooked: 

  • Date of Signature: An employee must complete their I-9 prior to their first day of employment. If it is the same date, the form is considered late and could incur fines. 
  • Preparer and or Translator Certification: If the employee is not using a preparer or translator, they should check the box, “I did not use a preparer or translator” and leave the fields blank. 
  • Employer Certification: We often see employees attempt to fill out this section in error. It is important that this section is completed and signed only by an authorized representative.  

We understand this can be tedious and time consuming for employers or managers who would rather focus on running their business. This is one reason why businesses choose to outsource their HR, to get support and expertise. The Anthros team is always available to our clients to guide them through new hire paperwork and documentation. You can also find more I-9 information and guidance on the USCIS website.

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