Common Issues and Problems

Errors or information missing from the I-9 form can delay the successful completion of a verification. This article lists the most common issues and problems related to the completion and submission of the I-9 form.

Required Information Missing or Incorrect

The most common error is failing to complete the I-9 form. We use almost every bit of information from the form to complete the verification. You should ensure that all fields– name, date of birth, Social Security number, etc.– are completed.

In addition to basic identification info, note the following special circumstances:

Section 2, Describing the Identification Documents: You must record in Section 2 a complete description of the identification documents presented by the new hire. The information required includes the document(s) title; issuing authority; document number and expiration date, if any.

First Day of Employment: Under the “Certification” paragraph and just above your signature, you must enter the date that the employee began work for pay. This is the date that DHS uses to determine whether or not the form was timely submitted.

Date the new hire began or will begin work for pay.
Date the new hire began or will begin work for pay.

Missing Alien Number or I-94 Number: Regardless of the type of identification documents presented, a non-citizen new hire must provide either an Alien Number or Form I-94 number. A “lawful permanent resident” must enter their Alien/USCIS Number in the citizenship area of Section 1. An “alien authorized to work” must enter their Alien/USCIS Number, I-94 Admission Number or foreign passport number and country of issuance in the same area.

(Note: Even though an “alien authorized to work” has the option to provide either their Alien/USCIS Number, I-94 Admission Number or foreign passport number and country of issuance in Section 1, E-Verify will require us to enter either the Alien/USCIS Number or I-94 Number, regardless of which number the employee provides.)

Missing Permanent Resident Card or Employment Authorization Document Number: In addition to the Alien Number, the Permanent Resident Card Document Number or Employer Authorization Document Number is also required for verification. The number consists of three letters followed by at least 10 numbers. It can usually be found in the top row of the computer-generated data at the bottom or on the back of the card, toward the right. On some newer card versions, the number is printed on the back, standing alone.

Incorrect Name: The employee’s name recorded on the I-9 form must match the primary identification document. Name mismatches that result in a Tentative Non-Confirmation are usually associated with non-citizens.

Form Errors

Expired I-9 Form: It is a violation of federal law to verify an employee on an expired form. You can download the current version from the Quick Start Guide.

Incorrect I-9 Form: Form I-9 is available in English and Spanish. However, only employers in Puerto Rico may use the Spanish version to meet the verification and retention requirements of the law. Employers in the United States and other U.S. territories may use the Spanish version as a translation guide for Spanish-speaking employees, but the English version must be completed and retained in the employer’s records. Employees may also use or ask for a preparer/translator to assist them in completing the form.

Unreadable Fax: Occasionally, I-9s sent by fax are unreadable because of their quality. We use a digital fax service so that we can see the form exactly as you send it. If we experience continued problems reading your faxes, we’ll let you know. A better, more secure alternative is to create a PDF file and upload via the New Hire Submission form. You can also email the digital file to, although it’s less secure.

Other Issues

Expired Identification Document: You are not permitted to accept (and we cannot use for verification) an expired identification document. You must obtain an unexpired document and submit as soon as possible.

Photo Matching Required: When an employee presents either a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551), Employment Authorization Card (Form I-766) or U.S. Passport for his or her Form I-9 documentation, we are required to match the photo on the document to the photo in DHS records.  In addition, you must make copies of these documents and retain them with the form. You should scan or digitally photograph the document and return the image to us for matching. Only if no other method is available should you fax the card to us.

Submission Pre-Dates Enrollment in E-Verify: You are not permitted to verify workers who were in your employ at the time that you signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). An exception exists for federal contractors. You may verify new hires who were hired on the date that you enrolled.

Foreign Passports Incorrectly Described: You may accept a foreign passport that contains a temporary I-551 stamp or temporary I-551 printed notation on a machine-readable immigrant visa. The U.S. Department of State issues U.S. visas to citizens of foreign countries who seek to enter the United States. The visa number, also called a visa foil number, is a red number printed on the bottom right side of the document. Enter the visa number exactly as it appears on the document. You must enter exactly eight alphanumeric characters (letters and numbers). You may not enter any special characters. An employee may have several U.S. visas in his or her passport. Review the issue date printed in the center of each visa and enter the visa number of the most recently issued visa. Entering the visa number is optional. If the employee provides a visa number, you are encouraged to enter it as doing so may prevent a tentative nonconfirmation (TNC). A U.S. visa number usually contains eight numeric characters. In some cases, a U.S. visa number contains one letter followed by seven numeric characters.

For more information about completing the I-9 form, visit: or view the instructions that accompany the I-9 form, downloadable here.