Here is the third blog posting in our series on I-9 violations and what you can do to avoid them.

As we discussed in our second blog posting in this series... Using Red Ink Can Get You into Hot Water With ICE, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) are sticklers for following directions.  And if you don't follow them explicitly, it could result in a fine. 

Here are some additional findings our HR department uncovered when it comes to following the instructions on the I-9 form...

More is Not Always Better

  • Steer clear of providing too much documentation.  If you write down a document in Section 2 of the Form I-9 for List A, don't think that you will get any extra points for going above and beyond by listing something on the I-9 form from List B or List C too.  It could actually get you a penalty.  List A stands on its own.  List B and List C go together... not List A and List B and not List A and List C.  It's either List A or List B and List C.

Penalties Can Be Issued For Not Following Directions

  • Put the documentation in the correct columns.  So here is where your ability to follow directions counts.  If one of your employees provides a driver's license as one of their documents, don't put that down in List A on the I-9 form.  A drivers license is not an acceptable List A document... it's a List B document.  So that can get you a penalty. 
  • Pay attention to the document title and other rows of information relating to verification.  It's important to put the correct information in the correct row in Section 2 of the Form I-9.  The document title needs to be placed on the ‘Document title' row.  And the information about the issuing authority, needs to be shown on the ‘Issuing authority' row.  Don't flip flop these rows... that could cost you.  Same with the ‘Document #' and ‘Expiration Date' information.  When you are documenting a person's social security account number as an item from List C... the issuing authority should always be shown on the I-9 as the Social Security Administration or SSA.  Anything other than that could put you at risk for a fine.

Make Sure You See Originals... and They Cannot Be Expired

  • Original documents are a must.  The person completing the I-9 form within your company must always review an employee's original document(s).  The only exception is for a birth certificate.  A copy of a birth certificate is the only form of documentation where a copy is allowed.  The person filling out the I-9 form must physically see the original document(s).  Reviewing photocopies or faxed copies of a passport, driver's license, social security card, school ID, etc. and claiming they are original documents is not permitted and can get you into trouble.
  • Expired U.S. passports are no longer valid.  On April 3, 2009, the government changed the rules regarding accepting expired U.S. passports as a valid List A document.  Prior to that date, employers used to be able to accept an expired U.S. passport from an employee for proof of identity.  Now that is no longer the case.  ALL documents shown for the purpose of employment eligibility in the United States must be unexpired.  If a document does not contain an expiration date... such as a Social Security account number card... then that document is considered unexpired.

Lamination Could Be a No-No

  • Check the back of Social Security cards.  If an employee presents a laminated Social Security account number card to you as a document for List C and the back of the card states ‘not valid if laminated'... then you cannot accept this laminated card as a valid List C document.  When the card was laminated, it rendered the document invalid.

Read Our First Blog Posting in This I-9 Series... Nationwide I-9 Audits Continue in Search of Immigration Violations