Compliance and Legal

The Ultimate Guide to I-9 Verification Compliance in 2024

Imagine it’s the first day of your new hire. There will be many forms for them to fill out before they start working. One of such forms is Form I-9.

U.S. employers need to comply with Form I-9 during the onboarding process. However, employers must be aware of any changes since the form is regularly updated.

This article will shed light on what Form I-9 is and the changes you must comply with in 2024 and beyond.

What is Form I-9?

Source: USCIS

Form I-9 (also referred to as the Employment Verification Form) is a document created by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for employers to verify the employment authorization and identity of employees in the United States.

The form ensures that employers don’t hire talents who are not authorized to work in the United States. There must be a USCIS Form I-9 in the payroll records for each employee you hire.

Apart from being required by the Federal government, failure to comply with I-9 regulations comes with severe penalties. Hence, the form is an important part of business compliance.

How to Use Form I-9

The prospective employee and the employer (or an authorized representative acting on behalf of the company) can complete the Form I-9. The authorized representative can be foremen, personnel officers, agents, or notaries public.

The employee must provide valid documents to prove their employment authorization and identity. The employer will then examine the documents and record the necessary information on Form I-9.

Form I-9 comprises two sections:

  • Section 1: This section is completed by the employee
  • Section 2: It is completed by the employer

Employers that don’t fill out Form I-9 correctly could be penalized. Hence, you must check for errors before you submit the form.

Also, employers must guide employees on how to fill out Form I-9. The USCIS website has detailed directions on how employees and employers can complete the form.

Let’s take a closer look at how to fill Form I-9:

Section 1

As stated earlier, this section is completed by the employee. The information that the employee can enter in this section include:

  • The employee’s full legal name
  • Other legal last names (such as a maiden name)
  • Date of birth
  • Current address
  • Citizenship or immigration status
  • Form I-94 admission number or foreign passport number and the expiration date of employment authorization (if applicable)

So, what should the employer check in this section?

The employer must ensure that the employee completed all the compulsory fields and signed and dated the forms. If the employer is taking part in the E-Verify I-9, then the employee must have their SSN (Social Security Number).

In addition, backdating is not allowed. Hence, the date written on the form must be the actual date of completing the Form I-9.

Section 2

This section involves verifying the identity and employment authorization documents of the employee. Before the employer completes Section 2, they must review Section 1 to ensure it is accurate.

If the employer detects any wrong or missing information, then the employee must correct it and must also include initial and date edits before they resubmit.

The employee can then present:

  • One document from List A (which shows identity and employment authorization), or
  • One document from List B (which shows identity) and one document from List C (which shows employment authorization).

Once this is done, the employer (or any authorized representative) can:

  • Examine each document in person to ensure it is original and genuine. If you are participating in E-Verify, you can use an alternative remote process to examine each document via a video call.
  • Enter the document title, issuing authority, document number, and expiration date of each document.
  • Enter any other employer information that is indicated on the form. The documents must be unexpired, original, and also in the list of acceptable documents (more on this in the next section).

In addition, the employer must enter the date the employee started working and other relevant employer information. The employer must also sign and date the form.

Acceptable I-9 Documents

The image below shows the list of Form I-9 documents that the employee must provide to demonstrate right-to-work status and confirm identity:

Source: UCSIC

2024 I-9 Changes

The new Form I-9 was published on 1st August 2023 and can be found on the USCIS website. Employers started implementing the new I-9 rules on 1st November, 2023.

The main I-9 form updates include the following:

  • Sections 1 and 2 have been reduced to a single-sided sheet.
  • You can now fill out the form on tablets and mobile devices, thereby giving room for electronic competition.
  • The list of acceptable I-9 documents now includes new acceptable receipts.
  • The preparer or translator certification section has been relocated to Supplement A.
  • The re-verification and rehire section has been moved to a different page known as Supplement B to facilitate accurate record-keeping during re-verification or rehiring.
  • A checkbox for employers participating in E-Verify to confirm that they have remotely confirmed the employment authorization and identity documents of the employee.
  • Instructions on how employers can find examples of different documents in the Handbook for Employers (M-274).

Top Form I-9 Violations

In 2019, penalties for violating Form I-9 hit an all-time high. This amounted to over $14 million in fines. It is, therefore, costly to make I-9 compliance omissions or mistakes.

The main I-9 violations and compliance penalties can be categorized into 3:

Paperwork Violations

Penalties for this offense range from $272 to $2,701 per I-9 form with uncorrected technical errors.

Unauthorized Employment

Employers caught employing unauthorized employees intentionally will be fined between $676 and $5,404 per unauthorized worker.

Repeated Offenses

Repeated offenses are fined between $5,404 and $27,108. These offenses can include rules violated in the distant past.

The specific lists of I-9 violations include:

  • Spelling errors
  • Wrong combination of acceptable documents
  • Too many acceptable I-9 documents
  • Late physical inspection of I-9 documents that were verified virtually
  • Missed 3-day deadline
  • Birth date errors
  • Missing dates or signatures
  • Submitting corrections without a date or initials
  • Unverified documents or information
  • Not guiding employees through Section 1

How to Maintain Form I-9 Compliance

Now that you know the violations to avoid and their penalties, let’s take a look at tips that will help you maintain Form I-9 compliance:

Effective Training

Although it is important to have a comprehensive written I-9 policy to ensure consistent and effective management and compliance, employees must also adhere to the guidelines.

As an employer, you must provide the required training and enforce your policies for your team to align with your I-9 procedures. Since the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) fines heavily for I-9 violations, your team must fully understand and implement your organization’s I-9 policies.

You can effectively train your team on your I-9 policies by using these tips:

  • Employees must be able to easily review your I-9 policies anytime. Preferably, they can be in digital formats (but ensure you have the right security measures in place).
  • Implement an ongoing training schedule to update your team on changes in the policy.
  • Engage and assess employee knowledge using quizzes.
  • Educate your team on the importance of policy compliance.

Find Out If You Need to Comply and If You Need E-Verify

To figure out if you need to follow I-9 rules and use E-Verify, it's a good idea to talk to a lawyer who knows about employment laws. While articles like this one can give you some information, they cannot give advice tailored to your specific situation.

The rules about I-9 forms and E-Verify can depend on factors such as who your company serves, the laws in your state and city, and how many people work for your business.

Complete Form I-9 Correctly

Many people make errors when filling out this form, which can result in fines and penalties. Common mistakes include using an outdated version of Form I-9, forgetting to fill out the translator or preparer certification section, and putting the wrong documents in the wrong places.

To avoid these errors, you may use an electronic Form I-9 solution. This system checks the form fields as you fill them in, helping to ensure accuracy.

Fill Out the Sections of the I-9 Form on Time

Employees must fill out and sign Section 1 of Form I-9 by the employee's first day at work. It is important to note that when you're completing Form I-9, you'll need to include Social Security Numbers (SSNs) for E-Verify.

However, you can't ask to see any document that has an SSN on it, as this could break Act 274B regulations.

You have three business days from the employee's first paid work day to fill Section 2. The employee needs to provide original documents proving their identity and eligibility to work to you or someone authorized by your business.

You or the authorized person must physically inspect these documents to ensure they're genuine and belong to the employee presenting them. After that, you or your authorized agent must sign and date Section 2 to confirm the inspection.

Conduct Regular Audits

It is important to perform regular audits of your company's Form I-9s. This involves checking that the forms are filled out correctly, submitted on time, and kept on file.

This process is important because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) might conduct an audit of your company's I-9 forms.

Factors to Consider for Form I-9 Compliance

Here are factors that employers must consider to ensure Form I-9 compliance and avoid penalties:

Document Verification

Employers must thoroughly review and confirm that the documents the employer presented (as proof of work authorization and identity) are authentic.

Timely Completion of the Form

The employee must complete Form I-9 no later than their first day of work. Employers, on the other hand, must complete their section of the form within three business days of hiring the employee.

Compliance Audits

Employers must always audit their I-9 records to promptly detect and correct any omissions or errors.


Employers must re-verify an employee’s eligibility if the employee’s work authorization expires.


Employers must keep Form I-9 for each employee for 3 years after hiring the employee or one year after terminating the employee’s appointment (depending on the one that is later).

How to Prevent Discrimination During the Employment Verification Process

The Immigration and Nationality Act frowns at employers discriminating against employees while hiring, hiring, or verifying because of their immigration status, citizenship, or country of origin.

Hence, to comply with the law, you cannot:

  • Request employment authorization documents before a job offer.
  • Reject valid receipts for authorized documents.
  • Decline to accept documents or employ individuals based on the expiration date of their employment authorization.
  • Suggest or request specific documents from the employee.

Employees can file a claim with the IER (Immigrant and Employee Rights Section) if they experience discrimination.

Employers, on the other hand, cannot retaliate if an employee attests to their rights, takes part in an investigation, or files a charge as a result of discrimination. The USCIS website contains more information on laws about employment discrimination.

The Use of Technology for I-9 Verification

The use of technology for I-9 verification provides several benefits when compared to traditional paper-based methods. Electronic Form I-9 systems streamline the process, enhance compliance, and provide different features to simplify employment eligibility verification.

Advantages of Electronic Form I-9

Ease of Use and Consistency

  • Simplifies form completion with consistent data entry.
  • Ensures compliance by completing I-9 forms within required timeframes.

Data Management Efficiency

  • Reduces redundancy with single data entry.
  • Minimizes processing errors and ensures accuracy.
  • Provides reminders for re-verification and document expiry.

Compliance Features

  • Implements controls to prevent incomplete or erroneous form submissions.
  • Facilitates system-controlled audits for easier compliance management.

Electronic Signature Options

  • Offers different signing methods to meet Federal E-Sign Act requirements securely.
  • Enables electronic storage, management, and audit reporting to meet USCIS/DHS standards.

Organizational Benefits

  • Simplifies document retention and purging processes.
  • Centralizes management of I-9 forms for easier oversight.

Important Factors for Compliance

While electronic Form I-9 systems provide significant benefits, it is important to avoid violating the I-9 regulations as much as possible. Some factors that you must consider to ensure a compliant automated I-9 verification process include the following:

  • Systems must give room for easy retrieval and indexing of I-9 forms to meet ICE requirements.
  • Clear audit trails should document all actions related to I-9 forms, ensuring security and accountability.
  • Electronic systems should generate secure, permanent records of all activities, including access and modifications.
  • Systems must be capable of producing paper copies of I-9 forms and supporting documents as needed.

Wrapping Up

Form I-9 was created so that newly hired employees can prove that they are eligible to work in the United States.

Hence, employers must complete the form accurately whenever they hire new talent or for a specific period after terminating the employee’s appointment. The document must be kept and produced whenever a government agency requests it.

Considering the rate at which the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement increases company audits, the Form I-9 must be filled out accurately and timely to avoid being penalized and fined.

If you still need help with Form I-9 compliance, consult with an employment or a legal counsel. The USCIS and DHS also have lots of resources that can help employers maintain I-9 compliance:


Who must complete Form I-9?

The employer must use Form I-9 for all new hires and rehires. Existing workers are not expected to complete a new I-9 form provided they’ve already filled one.

How often do you need to reverify an I-9?

Employers must reverify the documentation of an employee only after the expiration of the EAD (employee’s employment authorization document) or receipt. Make sure to re-verify before the work authorization expires.

Can you do I-9 verification remotely?

If you're in good standing with E-Verify, you're allowed to check your employee's documents remotely using an alternative procedure approved by the Department of Homeland Security at your E-Verify hiring sites.

Who should conduct an organization’s I-9 internal audit?

For the best results, it's recommended to hire an immigration attorney or a specialist who is trained to conduct your audit. If you decide to handle the audit internally, ensure that the person responsible for checking your I-9 forms is different from the one who originally completed them.

How can I send a Form I-9 to my employee?

You can request an I-9 form from your employee through two methods:

  • Print and sign the form manually: Print out a hard copy of the form for the employee to sign. You can download the latest I-9 forms from the USCIS website.
  • Use an e-signature solution: If you've invested in an e-signature platform, you can upload and send the I-9 forms electronically for a fee.

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