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Compliance Corner: Q&A on I-9 Forms

Friday March 26th, 2021

Estimated time to read: 3 minutes


There is a list of onboarding activities that must be completed any time a new employee is hired within an organization. One of those activities is filling out the I-9 form. 

In this month’s Compliance Corner blog, HR Business Partner for isolved People Services Casey Walters is answering common questions about I-9 forms. Discover what you need to know by reading the Q&A below:*


1. What is an I-9 form and why is it important?

All U.S. employers are required to complete the form I-9 for every individual they hire to verify identity and employment authorization.


2. When should new employees fill out I-9 forms and what documentation do they need to provide?

Employees must complete Section 1 of the I-9 on their first day of work.  Employees must present appropriate documentation by the end of the third business day after the first day of pay. For example, if an employee starts on Monday, the I-9 must be completed on that date, but the employee has until Thursday to present the appropriate documentation. 


3. What if a new employee doesn’t provide the proper documentation in a timely matter?

Employers may terminate an employee who does not provide documentation by the end of the third business day after the first day of pay.  If the employee does not provide the documents, the employer cannot complete section 2, which would put the company at risk for potential penalties. 


4. What if there are questions about the documentation that the employee provided (e.g., last names that don’t match up)?

Employers must examine the original documents and unless they do not appear to be genuine or relate to the person presenting them, they should otherwise be accepted. If an employee presents documents with a different last name than what is entered into Section 1, employers may accept the document if it reasonably relates to the employee.


5. Do rehired employees need to fill out new I-9 forms? 

Employees who are rehired more than three years after the date their previous I-9 form was completed are required to fill out a new I-9 form. Employees who are rehired within three years from the original completion date have to update the original form or complete a new one.


6. Can I-9 forms be filled out digitally rather than with pen and paper?

Yes. Employers can utilize tools such as the onboarding module within isolved to ensure the form I-9 is filled out completely and correctly digitally. Common issues seen with I-9 forms that are completed with pen and paper include improper corrections, boxes left blank or too much information entered. Digital form fills help to ensure everything is filled out correctly and legibly, which can save HR teams time and energy down the road.


7. Do I-9 forms need to be updated over the course of an employees’ tenure? 

In certain instances employers may be required to reverify an employee’s employment authorization, but in many cases the I-9 will not need to be updated after the original completion.


8. How long do I-9 forms need to be kept after an employee leaves the company?

Employers are required to keep the I-9 for one year after an employee leaves the company or three years after their date of hire, whichever is longer.  So if an employee has worked for your company for two or more years, you will need to keep the I-9 for one year after their termination date.  If the employee has not worked two years, you will need to keep the I-9 for three years from their date of hire.


9. Do you have tips to help businesses ensure compliance with I-9 requirements?  

It’s first important to review current I-9 forms. Employers should discard as many forms for terminated employees as legally possible. Then a process should be set up to determine a schedule to regularly review and discard terminated employees’ I-9s going forward.

For active employees, employers should review forms and identify if there are any errors or if there is missing information so that the form can be corrected as soon as possible.


10. What should be done if an employee’s form needs to be corrected? 

To correct errors on the I-9 properly, a line must be drawn through the incorrect information, then the correct information should be added, initialed and dated. It is important to note that only employees can complete corrections in section 1.


11. Do employers need  to keep copies of the documents employees provide?

No. It is not required for employers to keep copies of the documents employees provide.


About Casey:

Casey is part of isolved’s People Services team and has more than ten years of experience in HR. His areas of expertise include employee relations, performance management, benefits management and safety. Throughout his career, Casey has worked within the manufacturing, marketing, medical, banking and finance industries.


* This blog is not legal advice. Please seek proper legal advice.

Disclaimer: Some requirements may be different for E-Verify Employers.


Need assistance completing your critical HR tasks? Discover how isolved People Services can help.



“I-9 Central.” USCIS, 24 Nov. 2020, 


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