Ensure your existing I-9s are audit-ready

With a surge in ICE audits, your I-9 compliance is at risk, especially if your records are still on paper. Know the facts: Where are your I-9s stored? Are they secure? Have they been validated recently? Our guide helps you navigate these crucial questions, ensuring you're ready for any audit.


The basics of an I-9 audit

Why would I be audited?

Audits by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could occur for various reasons:

  • Historic I-9s converted from legacy systems
  • I-9 forms for terminated employees not meeting purge criteria
  • Responding to tips or complaints
  • Part of routine inspections to ensure businesses follow immigration laws

Maintaining accurate and complete records to address potential audit concerns is crucial.

What does an audit look like?

Employers may receive a hand-delivered Notice of Inspection/Subpoena from ICE officials, triggering a stringent process.

  • Submission of all I-9 forms and related documentation within 72 hours
  • Possible outcomes: Notice of Intent to Fine (NIF) or a warning
  • 30 days to contest fines and request a hearing before the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO)
  • Retain the original copy of documents for internal reference and compliance validation

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.

Stay proactive in protecting your I-9 compliance with self-audits

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.

Why compliance matters

I-9 compliance isn't just about ticking boxes; it's a crucial aspect for large organizations. Overlooking it opens the door to common mistakes that may seem small but carry significant financial implications.

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

Violations, mistakes, and factors associated with I-9s

Navigating the world of I-9 compliance involves understanding the types of violations and their influences.

There are two types of I-9 violations:

Substantive Violations
Includes material errors such as providing false information or not supplying required documents.

Technical Violations
Includes less serious errors, such as failing to sign the Form I-9 or not storing the Form I-9 in a designated location.


Even seemingly small mistakes can lead to significant consequences. Avoid these common errors:

  • Missing deadlines
  • Accepting expired verification documents
  • Incomplete forms
  • Storing files in the wrong location
  • Missing signatures
  • Using the wrong version of Form I-9
  • Incorrect dates
  • Failing to retain forms

Factors influencing penalty amounts:

Several factors come into play when determining penalties for I-9 form mistakes. 

Size of the Business
Larger businesses may face higher penalties due to their potential impact on more employees and the overall scale of operations.

Good Faith Efforts
If the employer can demonstrate a good faith effort to comply with I-9 requirements, it may mitigate the penalties.

Severity of Violations
Substantive violations, such as knowingly hiring unauthorized workers, may result in more severe penalties than technical errors.

Previous Violations
If an employer has a history of I-9 compliance violations, it may impact the penalties. Repeat offenses are generally treated more seriously.

Unauthorized Workers
If an employer has a significant percentage of unauthorized workers, it may lead to higher penalties.

Safeguarding your reputation and financial stability

Legal Scrutiny and Public Perception
Any I-9 oversight can harm your organization's reputation in a transparent business era. News of legal entanglements or non-compliance issues can impact how the public perceives your company's values and ethics. Demonstrating a commitment to compliance helps build trust and resilience against reputational damage.

Financial Stability at Stake
Beyond the legal penalties, I-9 violations can pose a direct threat to your financial stability. Fines, legal costs, and potential disruptions to operations can quickly accumulate, diverting resources that could fuel growth and innovation. The financial repercussions extend far beyond the immediate penalties.

Trust is Built on Compliance
Customers, partners, and employees trust organizations that operate ethically and comply with regulations. I-9 compliance is a foundational element in building and maintaining this trust. It showcases a commitment to legal and ethical practices, bolstering your reputation in the business ecosystem.

Navigate the intricacies of I-9 compliance not just as a legal obligation but as a strategic move to fortify your reputation and ensure the financial stability of your organization.

How Maximus solves the problem

Maximus prioritizes your compliance, reviewing all I-9s, whether paper or electronic. We will review each form for accuracy and completion through our enhanced compliance review process. 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?

Trust Maximus, a leader in I-9 processing with three decades of experience and cutting-edge technology. Feel confident that you are getting your I-9s done right the first time, saving time and valuable resources.

Get in touch with an I-9 expert