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by Michael Murphy / May 14, 2020

On May 1st, employers will be required to switch to the new version of the I-9 employment eligibility verification form. The form must be filled out for each new hire, regardless of their citizenship status. Although it will become mandatory on May 1st, the form was originally released last year, which gives us plenty of data on some of the problems that arise when filling out the form. As an improperly filled out form can be a compliance nightmare, it is important for your HR department to understand and correct these problems before submitting the form. In this post, we’ll take a look at what has changed from the old version of the I-9 and some of the problems that arise when filling it out.

The Importance of Compliance

The Trump administration has taken a strict stance on immigration law, resulting in an increase in audits by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). In addition to the increased chance of an audit, the penalties for non-compliance have increased. As such, it is important for employers to take extra care in ensuring that the people they hire are legally eligible to work in the country and that the I-9 form, which verifies that status, is correctly filled out. Even if the employee is legally qualified to work here, an improperly filled out form can create a headache for both you and them.

Changes to the form

Most of the changes to the 2020 edition of the form are cosmetic and come in the form of additional instructions and clarifications regarding the proper procedure for filling out the form. The USCIS website gives us the following list of changes for the new form:

  1. Revised the Country of Issuance field in Section 1 and the Issuing Authority field (when selecting a foreign passport) in Section 2 to add Eswatini and Macedonia, North per those countries’ recent name changes.
  2. Clarified who can act as an authorized representative on behalf of an employer.
  3. Updated USCIS website addresses
  4. Provided clarifications on acceptable documents for Form I-9
  5. Updated the process for requesting paper Forms I-9
  6. Updated the DHS privacy notice

A previous update to the form introduced the requirement to write ‘N/A’ in any field that would otherwise be left blank. For some sections of the form, this instruction was deemed confusing and that requirement has been lifted.

Common Mistakes

Depending on how well the new hire speaks English, there could be two or three people filling out the form. In all cases, there are sections that the employer fills out and sections that the employee fills out. If the employee needs help, then a translator will aid them in filling out the form and have their own set of entries to complete. We’ll go over the most common mistakes made by people in each of these three roles.


  • Often, people will forget to include one or more of the personal identification fields, such as their name, address, and date of birth. This is especially true for less common fields, such as maiden name.
  • Employees will often forget to sign or date the form.
  • If the employee has selected “A Lawful Permanent Resident” or “An alien authorized to work,” they will often neglect to include the required A-Number/USCIS Number or Form I-94 admission number that the form asks for.
  • Employees often neglect to check one of the boxes indicating their citizenship status or check more than one box.
  • If the employee completed the form on their own without the help of a preparer or translator, they are required to check the box marked, “I did not use a preparer or translator.” This is another field that is often not completed properly.


  • There’s a section in the employer section of the form where information about the employee must be entered. Some employers don’t realize that they are supposed to fill this out and neglect to do so. This information is needed in section 2 and in section 3.
  • Similarly, employers will often forget to fill out the information about themselves and the business, such as their name and title, the address of the business, etc.
  • Required verification documentation is often not listed on the application. When it is, other relevant information is left out, such as the document number, expiration date, or issuing authority. Such information about the documents is needed in both of the employer-filled sections.
  • Forms are often not signed and dated by the employer. For employers, this needs to be done in both section 2 and section 3. 
  • The area on the form requesting the employee’s hiring date should match with their hiring date in payroll.


  • Often, translators will forget to mark the box that indicates the employee was helped by a third party preparer or translator. 
  • Similarly, they will often neglect to provide their information in the preparer certification box.
  • A final common mistake is when there is more than one preparer/translator. In this case, each person who helped must complete separate preparer certification sections.

How We Can Help

Our cloud-based onboarding platform will increase the accuracy not only of your I-9 submissions but of every other form involved in the onboarding of new hires as well. We do this by removing the paperwork and crafting automated workflows that help to remove human error. With digital forms and cloud storage, you’ll always have the form you need on hand so you’ll be prepared in case of an ICE audit of your business. Our onboarding solution is just a small part of a larger collection of cloud-based HR services that we offer.

More About Platinum Group

Platinum Group is a full service human capital management (HCM) resource that allows businesses to manage their payroll and benefits compliance, track time and attendance, and conduct other human resources functions in a way that maximizes efficiency and eliminates redundancies. This is made possible by means of our platform, iSolved. For more information about Platinum Group, or to schedule a demo of iSolved, please visit our website.

Tags: Payroll & Human Resources iSolved HCM Hire Data Management Stay Compliant

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Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy

Michael is the founder of Platinum Group. His passion is in helping businesses to simplify their employee management and accounting processes.

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