Mistakes can happen at various stages of the employment verification process, including the completion of paper Form I-9. Though it is imperative that errors be promptly corrected, employers need to be careful that they do not replace old blunders with new ones.
By maintaining a working knowledge of acceptable practices and corrections to the government paper Form I-9, businesses can prevent oversights during their I-9 correction process. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides guidelines for properly correcting these forms.
Federal Rules for Amending Form I-9
First, employers should be aware that they are only permitted to correct Sections 2 and 3 of the Form I-9, while employees are responsible for correcting Section 1.
According to USCIS, there are three steps to effectively correcting a Form I-9: (1) drawing a line through the incorrect information; (2) entering the correct data; and (3) initialing and dating the change. The federal agency emphasizes that alterations made to work authorization documents should not be obscured in any way. Failure to follow this rule may result in greater culpability according to U.S. immigration regulations.
In cases where a Form I-9 includes extensive and serious mistakes, employers and their employees may elect to complete a new Form I-9. Errors that may necessitate this step include the completion of Section 2 using unacceptable documents or entire portions of the Form I-9 left blank.
Moreover, USCIS provides that specific sections of the I-9 may be redone and affixed to the old version when numerous errors require correction. In the cases of both partial and total re-do of the Form I-9, companies should add a memorandum to the file documenting the reasons for the changes.
Preventing Common Errors
In addition to the guidelines set out by USCIS for properly correcting I-9 forms, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) outlined a number of avoidable mistakes. For instance, attorney Mary Pivec noted the following common errors with corrected I-9 forms: (1) backdating or filing in Section 1 or Section 2 of an incomplete I-9 without initialing and signing the corrections, making it appear that the form was completed properly and dated at the time of hire; (2) failing to have the employee make changes to Section 1, particularly corrections in the immigration status portion of Section 1; (3) post-hoc corrections to Section 2 by someone other than the original employer representative who completed the original Section 2 certification with or without initialing and dating the corrections, including material changes to the document verification section or the employer attestation.
In cases where the original employer representative that witnessed and signed the Form I-9 is no longer with the company, completing and attaching a new Form I-9 to the original remains the most compliant solution.
"The foregoing [errors] are serious and can result in an individual being charged with perjury or evidence tampering if detected by government auditors or prosecutors," Pivec told SHRM Online.
Attorney Mira Mdivani also emphasized mistakes that can result in negative consequences, such as remedying data that does not require it, and using black marker or corrective liquid to redact information.
"I often see corrections that make things worse," Mdivani revealed to SHRM.
Substantive or Technical?
There are two basic types of infractions that can occur on Forms I-9: technical and substantive. Both errors can occur when making corrections the wrong way. The ^ fundamental difference between these two kinds of violations is that technical offenses may be corrected within a number of days while substantive offenses cannot.
Errors in recording employees' birth years may amount to technical violations, while missing signatures are always considered substantive violations.
A manual auditing processing may not always be the way to go. Considering that I-9 Advantage has found that on average 68% of an organizations I-9s contain errors or omissions, it can be difficult to manually detect each error. Compliance solutions like I-9 Medic™, provide employers a compliant and easy correction process. Archived paper Form I-9s are converted to digital format, and then undergo a 185-point error-checking algorithm to catch errors and omissions on each form. I-9 Medic then provides the employer with accurate guidance on how to properly correct the Form I-9.