How to ensure your existing I-9s are audit-ready

A guide to prioritizing I-9 compliance and understanding its importance

Now, more than ever, I-9 compliance represents a huge liability for companies, just sitting in their filing cabinets. ICE has committed to increased audits. Do you know what percentage of your I-9s are paper? Do you know if I-9s are stored at various worksites, and how easy it is to gain access? Are those locations secure in the event of a natural disaster? If your I-9s are electronic, were they validated and audited internally? There are lots of questions to ask, so ensure you're prepared with this guide.


What are the Repercussions of Incorrect I-9 Completions?

When it comes to compliance for existing I-9s, the numbers are staggering. With fines for a single error on the rise and the percentage of forms with an error averaging above 75 percent, the time is now to get a handle on your compliance. It's hard to comprehend the potential liability; however, here are some statistics from our 30 years of experience in auditing I-9s.

Estimate your potential liability with our I-9 fine calculator

76% percentage of I-9s with at least one fineable error

By the Numbers



maximum fine for one single error on an I-9


average number of errors on a paper Form I-9


substantive fine risk a company with 1,000 annual hires carries each year

The Basics of an I-9 Audit

Key Info You Should Know

  • It's recommended to contact legal council after being served.

  • To avoid hefty fines, make document remediations within 3 days after the Notice of Inspection/Subpoena is delivered.

  • If no settlement is reached, then the case will be litigated.

  • The undersigned regularly receives reductions of 25% to 40%.

  • Employers on average receive 25% to 35% reduction in penalties.

Why would I be audited by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)?

Self-auditing doesn’t always get the job done. You may be audited by ICE officials if you have historic I-9s that are being converted from legacy systems or if you have I-9 forms for terminated employees that haven't met purge criteria. This underscores the importance of being able to produce necessary documents in the event of an audit as well as proper formatting and compliance of I-9s.

What does an audit look like?

As an employer, you may receive a Notice of Inspection/Subpoena hand-delivered by ICE officials, which will require you to submit all I-9 forms and related documentation within 72 hours. After inspection, you may receive a notice of intent to fine (NIF) or a warning. You have 30 days to contest the fine after it has been delivered by requesting a hearing before the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO).

Why Self I-9 Audits are Important to Your Business

Avoid Fines


Most common errors are simply missed fields, and misplaced dates. These small errors can add up to BIG fines.

Simplify Hiring & Termination


Tracking expiring documentation and purging are essential to maintaining compliance.

Save Time & Hassle


In the event of an audit, a centralized repository is essential to ease the burden of tracking down I-9s stored in various locations.

Reduce Government Agency Interaction


Providing all documentation inclusive of audit trails greatly reduces the need for further action when being audited.

Resolve All Error


Having the peace of mind that your forms are audit ready is priceless.

How Maximus Solves the Problem

Our priority is your compliance! Maximus will take in all existing I-9s, whether they are paper or electronic. Through our enhanced compliance review process, we will review each form for accuracy and completion. If errors are found, they will be flagged and step-by-step guidance for correcting the issue will be provided, with the ability to append a corrected I-9 to the existing file with annotation of the original issue, the date it was found, and the date corrected.


Send Forms

To begin, the client uploads all I-9 forms to predetermined folders on the Maximus sFTP server or sends copies to Maximus via express mail.


Send Employee List

The client will also send Maximus a file of all current employees. The file should include the hire's name, location, hire date, and SSN.


Review Accuracy

Maximus will review the accuracy of all of the I-9 forms, flagging common errors that would be fineable offenses during an ICE or USCIS audit.


Deliver Results

Maximus sends the client a report that outlines employees with missing I-9, forms with errors or required reverification, and completed, accurate I-9 forms.

Interested in learning more about being audit-ready?

Combining three decades of I-9 experience with the latest paperless technology, the Maximus Tax Credit & Employer Services practice is the industry leader in I-9 processing and verification. Feel confident that you are getting your I-9s done right the first time, saving time and valuable resources.

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