Employers must have an Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) for every person on their payroll who is required to complete it (see our article “Are your employment verification practices compliant?” or visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website for more information). The next steps are to determine how long to keep your I-9 Forms, how to store them, and what to do if the government asks to inspect your forms. Not only is compliance essential for a government inspection, but also ensuring that any corresponding documentation with personal information stays out of the wrong hands — since the forms collect personal information about your employees.
First, it is important to note that all of these forms must be retained for a certain period of time. You need to have a completed Form I-9 on file for each eligible person on your payroll. Once an employee no longer works for you, the retention period depends on the length of the employee’s service. Each employee’s retention period can be calculated as follows:
You are required to retain:
The Form I-9 may be stored on paper or electronically. And, if you really must, you can store them on microfilm and microfiche (but on not stone tablets!). They may be stored on-site or off-site, in a single format, or a combination of formats. For example, it is acceptable to have workers prior to 2000 in paper format, and all hires since in electronic format.
If you choose to use an electronic storage system, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office requires that your system must:
The USCIS also recommends that you keep the Form I-9 separate from personnel records. If you do maintain paper copies of the documents your employees present, those may be kept in their personnel file.
You may receive an inspection request from a number of agencies, including officials with the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice Immigrant and Employee Rights Section, or the Department of Labor.
Whether you store your Form I-9s electronically, by paper, or both, you must be able to present the documents to the requesting government officials within 3 business days of the date requested.
When officials inspect your Form I-9, according to the USCIS you must:
If you refuse or delay an inspection, you may be in violation of the law.
Heather offers practical guidance and helps employers find solutions to employment law and compliance matters.
Heather educates and advises employers on all aspects of employment law, including compliance with state and federal laws, leaves of absence, discrimination, harassment, accommodations, discipline and discharge, wage and hour obligations, unfair competition, and other issues that arise in the workplace. In addition to Heather’s employment counseling, her background includes nearly a decade of litigation experience. Her prior experience includes litigating for a regional insurance company, business disputes, and employment.
Send a Message
Find a Location