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April 28, 2021

Common I-9 Mistakes and What They Could Cost You

We’ve all been there at some point—amid the excitement of starting a new job, we remember that of all the important documents that we need to complete, our I-9 Section 1 is top of the list. Or perhaps, you find yourself on the other side of this equation pretty often, your a recruiter who not only needs to make sure your new employee has completed I-9 Section 1 in a timely fashion, but you must also complete Section 2, and in some cases, Section 3, in order for the entire process to be complete and the employee can get to work. 

But amidst the hustle and bustle of onboarding and getting employees to work, we can’t forget that accuracy is the thread that holds each section of the I-9 process together... and compliant. Mistakes often happen during both the completion of the forms and the protocols around the processing of the forms that can be incredibly costly to your business. When these errors are found during an audit, they are accompanied by a fine that typically ranges from $216 - $2,156. However, there are cases where much larger fine amounts have been issued.

In the 2017 audit of restaurant food-chain Panda Express by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the chain was found to have discriminatory practices during their I-9 process by requiring employees who were legal permanent residents to renew their I-9 forms, while not requiring the same of employees who were U.S. citizens. The food chain was ultimately fined $400,000. 

Whether big or small, the fines add up. Keeping an eye out for some of the most common I-9 mistakes is the best way to protect your organization and strengthen the compliance of your I-9process.   

Common I-9 Mistakes | Able


Section 1 (Employees)

  1. Entering name, date of birth, or address incorrectly  
  2. Not entering the initial day of employment 
  3. Leaving the box for immigration status unchecked 
  4. Forgetting to sign and date the form
  5. Forgetting to sign the attestation 

Section 2 (Employers)

  1. Forgetting to complete List A or Lists B and C
  2. Not having the company representative sign Section 2
  3. Not meeting the three-day rule requiring the completion of the I-9 form within 3 days of the employee’s first day of employment
  4. Requesting specific documents from the employee to verify the information in Section 2
  5. Backdating the I-9 form if the three-day rule is not met 
  6. Providing more documents than necessary(over-documentation; ex. completing List C despite a satisfactory List A)
  7. Using an outdated version of the I-9 form
  8. Following discriminatory practices and protocols for processing I-9 forms (see example above)
  9. Destroying former employee I-9 forms too soon
  10. When applicable, forgetting to remind employees of upcoming document expiration


Fortunately, having a strong electronic I-9 solution can help mitigate some of these common errors during the I-9 Section I, 2, and 3 processes. To learn more about how our fully-featured onboarding automation platform, including our electronic I-9 offering, is helping organizations deliver a world-class candidate experience check out this infographic.

I-9 Solutions Fast Facts | Able