Best Practices for Storing Form I-9

Table of Contents

Employers must retain each employee’s completed Form I-9 for as long as the employee is on the records and is working for the organisation. Once an employee no longer works for the organization, HR must determine how long to retain and store the form: either three years after the date of hire or one year after the termination date, whichever is later. Forms can be retained on paper or electronically.
Forms I-9 should be stored separately from other documents and kept in a safe and secure space and ensure only authorized personnel have access to it.

Employers should have a alert system to remind themselves to re-verify employees who present work authorization that bears an expiration date and to accurately dispose of old forms. If employees indicate in Section 1 that they are an ‘alien authorized to work until’ and they enter in an expiration date, the employer needs to be sure to track the expiration date of the related work authorization documents. This includes employment authorization cards, I-94 records and foreign passports.
It’s good practice to have a system in place that alerts the employer 90 days in advance of expiring documents and Follow up 60 and 30 days before the expiration date will ensure that the employee is given every opportunity to take necessary steps to extend work authorization and obtain the necessary documents to be re-verified.

Employers should have a separate process for the I-9s of terminated employees. Once an employee is terminated, HR can either enter the date the I-9 should be destroyed on the existing tickler system for re-verifying expiring work authorization, or can separate the I-9 into a termed area, and order by destruction date. HR should regularly review the I-9s of terminated employees and destroy them accordingly.

Requirements for using an electronic storage system include:

  • Clear audit trails that detail when I-9s are created, completed, updated, modified or corrected. Assurance that when electronic records are created, completed or updated, there is a secure and permanent record created that establishes the date of access, the identity of the individual who accessed electronic records and a history of the action taken.
  • Controls to ensure the integrity, accuracy and reliability of the system.
  • Controls to detect and prevent the unauthorized or accidental creation, alteration or deletion of stored Forms I-9, including the electronic signature, if used.
  • An inspection and quality assurance program that regularly evaluates the system.
  • Controls to ensure an audit trail so that any alteration or change to the form since its creation is electronically stored and can be accessed by inspectors.

Employers must utilize a secure I-9 system that limits access to only authorized personnel, provides a backup for recovery of records and ensures that employees are trained to minimize the risk of altering data. When officials arrive to inspect an employer’s electronic Forms I-9, the employer must retrieve and reproduce the electronically stored forms as well as provide officers with the necessary hardware and software to inspect electronic documents.

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