Content Editor: Maryjo F. Pirages Reynolds
Original Author Credit: Stephanie A. Grattan

Employers must retain Forms I-9 for all current employees hired after November 6, 1986. Once an individual’s employment ends, the employer must retain Form I-9 for either three (3) years after the date of hire or one (1) year after the date employment ended, whichever date is later.

I-9s may be retained in paper form, microfilm, microfiche, or electronically. Regardless of how an employer stores its I-9s, the employer must be able to present the I-9s to government officials for inspection within three (3) business days of service of a Notice of Inspection.

To store I-9s electronically, employers should select an electronic storage system that complies with the following Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Regulations:

• The electronic system must be able to produce legible and readable hardcopies of the stored I-9s;
• The system must have reasonable controls to ensure its integrity, accuracy, and reliability;
• The system must also have reasonable controls to prevent and detect the unauthorized or accidental creation, alteration, or deletion of stored I-9s;
• The system must have an inspection and quality assurance program evidenced by regular evaluations of the system;
• The system must have a retrieval system which includes an indexing system that permits searches; and
• The system must not be subject to any agreement that would limit or restrict a government agency’s access to and/or use of the system on the employer’s premises.

Employers must document their business processes in connection with the creation, modification, and maintenance of any electronically stored I-9s. Employers must also document the process by which they establish the authenticity and integrity of the I-9s. With respect to security, access to the electronic storage systems must be limited to authorized, trained personnel. Further, the system must include backup and recovery features to prevent data loss. The system must also have an audit trail that logs a secure and permanent record of every person who creates, completes, or modifies a Form I-9.

Employers may choose for employees to fill out I-9s on paper and then scan and upload the signed I-9s to retain them electronically, thereafter destroying the original paper I-9s. Alternatively, employers may choose for employees to fill out and sign I-9s electronically using an electronic signature feature. Pursuant to Department of Homeland Security Regulations, electronic signatures must be affixed to a document at the time the attestation is provided. The system must create and preserve a record verifying the identity of the person producing the signature.