Internal audits of employee forms to be handled carefully

Kristin Ward
Kristin Ward

It is a good idea to occasionally review employment authorization forms of your employees, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, has provided employers with guidance to help employers structure and implement internal audits of their Forms I-9.

When preparing for an internal audit the employer will need to keep the following in mind:

  • Consider the purpose and scope of the audit;
  • Conducting an internal audit on the basis of an employee’s citizenship status or national origin is not permitted, nor is an audit on the basis of retaliation against any employee or employees;
  • If the audit could or is perceived to be discriminatory or retaliatory, do not perform the audit at that time, in that scope, or in that selective nature; and
  • Inform your employees in writing of the internal audit and explain the reason and scope behind the audit. State whether the internal audit is independent of or in response to a government directive.

Once the employer has decided to proceed with an internal audit on Forms I-9, ensure consistent standards when addressing any Form I-9 deficiencies revealed by the audit. If any problems are found, the employer should notify the employee and provide him or her with copies of the I-9 form, any accompanying documents that show this deficiency.

I-9 Form

The employer should ask the employee to provide documents that are acceptable under current law. If photocopied documents do not meet the legal standard, the employer should address its concern with the employee. The employer should provide the employee with the opportunity to choose a different document to present from the acceptable documents list.

The employee must correct any errors in Section 1 by drawing a line through the incorrect information and entering the correct information. The employee must then initial and date the correction.

The employer must correct any errors in Section 2 by drawing a line through the incorrect information, entering the correct information, and initialing and dating the correction.

If there are multiple errors in any sections, a new Form I-9 may be completed and attached to the previously completed Form I-9 with an explanation of the changes made or reason for the completion of a new form. Regardless of the error, forms should not be backdated nor should original information be whited out or erased.

If during the internal audit you discover the wrong version of Form I-9 was completed by an employee at the time of hire there are two alternatives to correcting this error. The employer may correct the error by stapling the outdated completed form to a blank current version signing the current blank version noting the reason. The other alternative is the employer may draft an explanation and attach it to the outdated completed Form I-9.

For more guidance on conducting an internal audit of Forms I-9, please visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website,

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