Nine Tips to Ensure Form I-9 Compliance in Case of a Site Audit

Nine Tips: All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for every individual they hire for employment in the United States, including both US citizens and non-citizens, with very few exceptions. Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment. How can you be sure your company is fully compliant in case of a site audit?

Here are nine tips to ensure Form I-9 compliance:

Documentation Tips

  1. Ensure all new employees complete Section 1 of Form I-9 by their first day of employment.

Note that Form I-9 cannot be completed before the individual has received and accepted their job offer.

  1. Employers must use the most recent version of Form I-9 published by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

The latest edition includes changes to the Form’s instructions and its List of Acceptable Documents. The form was most recently updated on 7/17/2017.

  1. The employer must complete Section 2 of Form I-9 within three business days of the new employee’s first date of employment.

An important point to note is that if an employee is being hired for less than three business days, employers must complete Section 2 on the employee’s first day of employment.

Filing, Reorganization, and Inspection Tips

  1. Keep Form I-9 on file for three years after the hire date or one year after termination, whichever date is later.

In the event of an inspection by U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), you must have forms available for all employees within the required maintenance period. Investigating officers will usually ask for a current payroll list to confirm the company’s existing employees.

  1. In the event of a corporate reorganization, change, merger, or acquisition, employers must assess Form I-9 requirements.

Employers who have purchased or merged with another company may either choose to treat employees continuing in employment as “new hires,” meaning that a new Form I-9 must be completed for all employees, or they may choose to treat them as “continuing in employment.” The latter allows the employer to obtain and maintain the previously completed Form I-9s for each employee. Those who choose the “continuing in employment” option assume any risks or liabilities of the previous employer in relation to the I-9s, such as errors or omissions, or missing forms. Employers should audit the documents in the event of any corporate change.

  1. For inspections, ICE will usually arrive and present an I-9 Notice of Inspection (NOI) outlining documents it needs to inspect.

The NOI generally requires the employer to present the requested documentation within 72 hours. The NOI may grant an exception to this requirement on rare occasions. Documents often requested include Form 1-9s, payroll records, Articles of Incorporation, business licenses, names of any contractors or subcontractors, and proof of E-Verify enrollment (if any).

Resource Tips

  1. Your immigration attorney should help you develop a specific plan to prepare your company for an audit.

Industry experts with knowledge and experience in managing site audits are an invaluable resource and can provide guidance on what a site audit entails, including how to utilize technology, conduct internal audits to verify compliance, and educating sponsored and unsponsored employees on how to respond in case of a site visit.

  1. Refer to USCIS Handbook for Employers M-274 if you have questions about Form I-9 compliance.

This handbook includes USCIS guidance on employer best practices for completing, storing, and maintaining Form I-9s. You can find answers to questions such as how to correct a Form I-9. The USCIS updates the handbook semi-regularly, so be sure you are accessing the most recent version.

  1. If you are not sure about the best practices for your global immigration program in general, contact an industry expert.

Industry experts with knowledge and experience in managing Form I-9 compliance and site audits are valuable resources and can help you with your compliance and site audit plan, as well as understanding these nine tips.


Global Mobility Solutions’ team of global relocation experts have helped thousands of our clients with Form I-9 compliance requirements. We can help your company understand how to be in compliance and how to respond to a site audit. Contact our experts online or give us a call at 800.617.1904 or 480.922.0700 today.

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