Friday, March 25, 2011

Clarification On Electronic Storage of Forms I-9

In an era of increasing worksite enforcement, many employers are turning to technology to assist in their compliance with immigration laws. For example, in recent years, new technology has emerged that allows employers to electronically store their Forms I-9. An electronic I-9 retention system may allow quicker completion, fewer mistakes, easier retrieval and a more accurate way to flag documents.

In July 2010, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finalized a regulation intended to provide more flexibility for employers to electronically sign and store I-9 forms. Until recently, employers were required to maintain paper I-9 forms for possible inspection by DHS and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). In 2006, however, DHS adopted rules allowing electronic storage of I-9 employment verification forms. In practice, however, the rules were confusing and difficult for employers to apply. In response to comments received from the public, the new rule provides clarification and gives employers more flexibility.
Important information for employers regarding this new rule:
  • Completion of I-9 in 3 Business Days. Employers have three “business days” to complete Section 2 of the I-9 (the section where the employer reviews the new hire's documents and verifies the new hire's authorization to work).
  • Employers May Use Paper, Electronic I-9s or Both. Employers who want to implement an electronic I-9 system do not have to do so at all locations to comply with the electronic storage rule. Employers may use an electronic system at one location and maintain paper I-9 forms at another location.
  • Employers May Change Electronic Storage Systems. Employers can change from one storage system to another as technology evolves, as long as the new system complies with the system requirements set forth in the regulation.
  • Employers Need Not Maintain Audit Trails for Viewing Electronic I-9s. Although employers still must maintain audit trails for the creating, completing, updating, modifying, altering and correcting electronic I-9s, no audit trail is required when someone merely reviews the form.
  • Employers Must Provide Employees with a Transaction Record if Asked. Employers must provide an employee with a transaction record, such as a copy of the I-9 form, if requested by the employee.
For more information about the requirements for electronic storage of I-9 forms, refer to the USCIS Handbook for Employers at: http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/m-274.pdf.

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