Conducting an Annual Self-Audit of Forms I-9


By: Kelly Eisenlohr-Moul
I-9 and E-Verify compliance is a lot like exercising and eating spinach.  Everyone knows that it’s good for you, but most are not motivated to invest the time and effort.  In the Form I-9 and E-Verify context, the problem with compliance is that your efforts today may not yield any tangible results.  To my knowledge, no one celebrates “not getting audited.”
On the contrary, clients rarely call my office until they are in trouble: an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or E-Verify audit or an investigation by the Department of Justice’s Office of Special Counsel (OSC) into allegedly discriminatory hiring practices.
Although I regularly am asked to represent an organization after ICE or the OSC knocks on the doors for an immigration audit, I would prefer to help you before ICE or the OSC darken your company’s doorstep.  It costs less money, takes less time, and is much less stressful.
My goal for this blog in early 2014 is to assist you in implementing some simple procedures in order to reduce your risk of being audited and fined for I-9 or E-Verify compliance issues.
The first of these measures is an annual self-audit of all Forms I-9.   
If you are keeping Forms I-9 in a separate binder or file (as you should be), then conducting this audit is fairly straightforward:

  • Check your payroll to make sure you have a Form I-9 for each current employee;
  • Purge Forms I-9 from employees hired more than three years ago and terminated more than one year ago; and
  • Use a checklist to ensure that the Forms I-9 do not contain any errors or omissions.

If you locate errors or omissions, simply correct the missing or inaccurate information using red ink, along with an notation similar to “self-audit on 1/3/14” along with the initials of the employee making the change.
Conducting an annual I-9 audit is an excellent opportunity to correct errors which could cost your company thousands of dollars in an administrative or other legal proceeding.
If you would like a sample checklist to assist in conducting a self-audit of Forms I-9, please e-mail me at