Reverification: A Critical Step in Compliance, Completing Section 3 of the Form I-9

Most employers are quite familiar with completing a Form I-9 for their newly hired employees, however many are struggling with understanding when it is appropriate to fill out the third section regarding reverification. In fact, completing reverification is a critical step in compliance when employees have a name change, share only a receipt for a lost or stollen List B or C document or when an employee’s work authorization document is temporary and has a limited validity period. All of these types of situations require the employer to track and take timely action to update the employee’s Form I-9 using Section 3.

To be better equipped in understanding the reverification process, what it involves and how to navigate it, we have put together some basic information to help guide you, along with the benefits of using a digital I-9 compliance software program specifically for this purpose.

Reverification for Employment Authorization of Current Employees

The key to reverification for employment authorization is to review and update the employee’s new document(s) before the expiration date of the current version of the listed document. It is considered unlawful to continue employing an individual who is without proof of current employment authorization, and it can negatively impact Form I-9 compliance.

Employees should present employers with a new approved document that shows current and future employment authorization. The employer should then complete Section 3 of the Form I-9. A new form may be required if Section 3 has already been filled out on the original Form I-9 or if there is a more recently issued version of the Form I-9 by USCIS than the version originally used at the time the employee was hired.

This type of reverification requires:

  • the employee’s full name as listed on the original Form I-9
  • an employee’s new name if it has changed, it should be updated here too
  • the title of the document used along with its number and expiration date
  • name of the person completing the form, signature, and the signing date applied

If an additional Section 3 on a new form has been completed (many Section 3 updates may have been needed during the course of a person’s employment) all versions with their respective updates should be stored with the original form I-9.

Reverification or Updating of Employment Authorization for Rehired Employees

It is a best policy practice to complete a brand new Form I-9 for a re-hire. However, in some situations the I-9 regulations allow for the prior I-9 form to be used to reverify employment. For example, employees who rehired prior to one year from the termination date or three years from the date of their original hire date, their prior Form I-9 may be used to reverify their employment and the employer can complete Section 3 to do so IF the prior Form I-9 that was completed is the same as the current legal version of the form. If the version of the Form I-9 has changed since the previously completed version, the employee will need to fill out a new Form I-9 upon their re-hire date.

Additionally, if it is appropriate to use Section 3 for a Rehire and if the employee is still authorized to work, no additional documentation is needed from the employee However, employers must still include:

  • the employee’s last name, first name, middle initial
  • name changes can be reflected in the name fields
  • the rehire date
  • the name and signature of the person completing the form

If an employee’s work authorization has expired, an employer is required to follow the same steps as they would for an employee that is still authorized to work. However, they must also reverify the employee’s employment authorization in Block C.

Recording Identity and Changes of Name for Current Employees

An employee that undergoes a legal name change due to a situation such as getting married, requires completion of Section 3 of the Form I-9. Employers should take note that it is crucial to verify that the employee’s name change is accurate, which could include providing proof via legal documentation such as a marriage certificate. Employers must make a copy of this proof and store it with the Form I-9 to have on hand in the event of an audit. If the legal name change comes without rehire or reverification, the process simply requires the employer to enter the employee’s new name in Section 3 of the Form I-9 as well as sign and date that section.

Should an employee need to change their name due to the previous presentation of a false identity, a new Form I-9 should be completed, but include the original hire date in Section 2 and store these documents all together along with a written explanation for the name update.

Important Considerations for Form I-9 Reverification

Reverification can be an involved process despite the seemingly simple steps listed above. But to complicate matters more, there are a few important considerations for employers to keep in mind:

  • Employers are required to reverify an employee’s work authorization and complete Section 3 of the Form I-9 by the date that the employee’s authorization expires.
  • Employers are not allowed to ask for a specific document for reverification, just as they are not allowed to ask for specific forms of documentation for other sections of the Form I-9. The only stipulation is that for presented documentation to be considered, it must be on the approved list of documents as noted on the form.
  • Reverification must be tracked even for current employees who initially provided proof of temporary work authorization due to a lost or damaged document and those employees must present an actual replacement document to complete all Form I-9 actions
  • Reverification is not required for noncitizen nationals or U.S. citizens, nor is it required when documents such as U.S. passports, U.S. passport cards, lawful permanent residents who presented a Form I-551, Permanent Resident or Alien Registration receipt card for Section 2 (Including conditional residents), or documents in List B that expire.
  • Not handling reverification properly can result in being found non-compliant which can yield some hefty fines. First time offenses generally start at $500 per offense and go up to around $4,500. From there, fines increase significantly for repeat offenses.

How Digital I-9 Compliance Software Can Help

The reverification process requires action to be taken before an employee’s work authorization expires, so it is critical for employers to stay organized, have a good tracking system and be proactive in this area. It can be beneficial for an employer to invest in digital I-9 compliance software that assists with built in reminders, alerting users about soon to be expired work authorizations. Software programs like these are instrumental in helping track expiring documents before they become an issue, secure digital document storage and archiving, and centralizing compliance reporting. Most I-9 tracking systems are also integrated with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (“USCIS”) E-Verify system and having the two compliance tracking features rolled into one tool brings significant efficiency to an employer’s compliance program.

It is vitally important for a business to clearly understand the Form I-9 reverification process to remain in compliance, and digital I-9 software makes it easy to do so, easing the burden of employers and offering valuable peace of mind.

What Are the Top Errors People Make on I-9s

While the Immigration Reform and Control Act has been in place for more than thirty years, it has become a large undertaking for companies to fill out the Form I-9 for new employees. Some corporations can have upwards of a thousand employees spread out across multiple locations, which means more paperwork and potentially more errors. As the need to become more efficient and accurate with how this information is processed grows, it has many employers asking what are the top errors people make on I-9s in an effort to avoid those errors and the associated fines.

Top Errors People Make on I-9s

Unintentional mistakes can negatively affect an employer’s compliance status. Being aware of the most common pitfalls of filling out the Form I-9 can help employers stay compliant and avoid headaches in the future.

Some of the top errors people make on I-9s include:

  1. Not properly training staff on form protocol
  2. Failure to complete the form in its entirety and by the proper deadlines
  3. Not properly reverifying expired work authorization and updating Section 3
  4. Using an old version of the form
  5. Missing signatures
  6. Incomplete or blank fields
  7. Transposing document numbers
  8. Correcting mistakes in the wrong way
  9. Failure to list the date of the first day of employment
  10. Accepting unacceptable or fraudulent documents
  11. Misplacing completed forms

It can be easy for an employer to glance at this list and say they would never make mistakes such as these, but the reality is that the process can become overwhelming when handling forms for multiple employees amidst other time-consuming responsibilities.

Let’s look at each of the items listed above in more detail.

Not Properly Training Staff On Form I-9 Protocol

Many of the mistakes listed above can be largely avoided if employers simply take the time to properly train and educate staff on administering, processing, and maintaining a Form I-9. An employer who has a thorough understanding of what is needed in each section of the form and the corresponding timeline is better equipped to complete the process accurately and on time.

Failure to Complete the Form in Its Entirety and By the Proper Deadlines

Deadlines are an integral part of the form, with each of the three sections having its own. Failure to complete a section by its documented deadline is grounds for compliance issues that can result in violations and punitive consequences. It is worth noting that there can be multiple violations for one employee if multiple deadlines are missed, and if multiplying that by a dozen employees, fines can add up quickly and negatively impact a company’s bottom line.

Not Properly Reverifying Expired Work Authorization and Updating Section 3

Performing reverification actions is a critical step in compliance when employees have a name change, share only a receipt for a lost or stolen List B or C document or when an employee’s work authorization document is temporary and has a limited validity period. All of these types of situations require the employer track and take timely action to update the employee’s Form I-9 using Section 3. The key to reverification for employment authorization is to review and update the employee’s new document(s) before the expiration date of the current version of the listed document. It is considered unlawful to continue employing an individual who is without proof of current employment authorization, and it can negatively impact Form I-9 compliance.

Using An Old Version of the Form I-9

While it is not done often, there are typically updates to the Form I-9 every few years, which requires a new version to be used instead of the old version. This type of change is announced well in advance and circulated to the human resource industry. Employers should regularly check with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services I-9 Central website to ensure they are using the most current version of the form.

Missing Signatures

Signatures are required on the Form I-9 whether they are tangible or electronic. A missing signature from an employee or employer regarding attestation or another matter could result in a violation affecting compliance.

Incomplete or Blank Fields

The Form I-9 is designed to confirm an individual’s identity as well as their authorization to work within the U.S. Every piece of information the form requires is essential to accomplishing this goal. A blank or incomplete field on an otherwise completed Form I-9 can still result in serious violations and punitive consequences for employers.

Transposing Document Numbers

Whether copying information from a document to a piece of paper or from a document to a digital system, it is critical for employers to enter numbers correctly. If two numbers are transposed in the process it can spell trouble—especially for employers using E-Verify, which may then receive a tentative nonconfirmation (TNC) case result.

Correcting Mistakes in the Wrong Way

Making a mistake on a Form I-9 is not uncommon, but it matters how errors are corrected. Any form using an agent such as White-Out is not acceptable and may lead to compliance violations. In most cases, the best way to correct a mistake on the form is to simply draw a line through the incorrect information, add the corrected information, and then initial and date the correction.

Failure to List the Date of the First Day of Employment

The Form I-9 is comprised of three sections, each of which have their own set of deadlines that largely depend on the exact date of the employee’s first day on the job. Leaving this field incomplete or blank can be a giant red flag in an audit because it is the benchmark for which much of the subsequent deadlines are measured against.

Accepting Unacceptable or Fraudulent Documents

The Form I-9 requires an employee to present the employer with documents for identification and work authorization purposes. The form clearly states that documents from List A, List B, and List C may be appropriate depending on each employee’s unique circumstances.

Beyond that, employers are also required to verify the authenticity of those documents in good faith and to the best of their ability. Should an audit reveal that fraudulent documents were used, knowingly or unknowingly, it can result in serious consequences.

Misplacing Completed Forms

All employers are required to have a completed Form I-9 on file for every employee. These forms should be easily accessible in the event that a government agency requests them, in which employers have three days to produce them. If it is discovered in an audit that a Form I-9 has been misplaced, the error can be considered a compliance violation.

In an effort to remain I-9 compliant, it is important for businesses to be proactive in learning about the top errors people make on I-9s and prevent making those same mistakes. Additionally, an electronic I-9 tool can reduce errors, significantly reduce the burden of tracking expiration dates, and significantly increase compliance.