Employers and Human Resources departments are being placed in a very tricky position when they review the documentation supplied to them by the new employee.  If the employer takes a lackadaisical attitude and accepts everything at face value, he may be accepting fraudulent documents and find itself penalized for violating the Employer Sanction rules.  If, however, the employer scrutinizes everything, and rejects a valid document it may expose the employer to charges of document abuse and may be fined.

Employers should ask the following questions when examining a new hire’s proof of valid work authorization:

  • Is the document(s) listed on list A or list B and list C on the back of the I-9 form?
  • Does the document appear to belong to the employee?  Is the name the same? Does the description match the new hire?  If the document has a picture, does the photo look like the new hire?
  • Does the document look like legitimate?  Does it look like other driver’s licenses?  Does it look like a green card? Be careful, there are different versions of the green card, which are genuine.  Be very careful to avoid rejecting a valid version simply because it is one that the employer is unfamiliar with.  Is the document clearly a forgery? Make sure it hasn’t been tampered; the picture does not appear to have been replaced or the name changed or a modification has been made.

What is the Difference between Technical and Actual Errors?

The USCIS differentiates between two types of errors when completing the I-9 Form.  Errors can be technical or substantive. The difference is how the error is treated.  If the error is technical, the USCIS will grant a ten (10) day period in order for corrections to be made.  However, if the error is substantive, there is no grace period.

Examples of technical error:

  • The employer fails to date the I-9 form
  • The employee doesn’t enter in his/her maiden name, date of birth, or address
  • For rehires, the employer fails to enter in the date of rehire or HR staff fails to enter in his/her title

Examples of substantive errors:

  • The employee doesn’t sign in section 1
  • HR staff fails to review a list A document or a combination of List B and List C documents
  • The employer fails to date section 2 in a timely manner: within three (3) days of the date of hire or (for employment of 3 days or less) on the date of hire
  • The employee fails to check one of the three boxes indicating whether he is a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or alien with temporary work authorization