When retaining Forms I-9 in paper format only, the employer must retain original Forms I-9 with original handwritten signatures, so a faxed copy of a Form I-9 does not meet this requirement.
Since Form I-9 contains an employee’s private information, and you are required to retain forms for specific periods of time, you should ensure that you protect that private information, and that it is used only for Form I-9 purposes. To protect employees’ private information, ensure that completed Forms I-9 and all supporting photocopies of documents are stored in a safe, secure location. Ensure that only authorized individuals can access these documents. For more information on protecting electronically stored Forms I-9 please refer to the Handbook for Employers (M-274).
Employers whose Forms I-9 are missing and/or destroyed as a result of a natural disaster or any other unforeseen occurrence should complete new Forms I-9 to the extent reasonably possible and attach a memo stating the reason new Forms I-9 were redone or why it was not possible to redo the Forms I-9.
If the employer completes and retains Form I-9 in paper format only, you must retain the original Form I-9 with the original handwritten signatures for three years after the date of hire or one year after the date the individual’s employment is terminated, whichever is later. Photocopies of the completed Form I-9 are not acceptable to meet this retention requirement.
You may choose to scan and upload the original, signed form in order to retain it electronically. Once you have securely stored Form I-9 in electronic format, you may destroy the original paper Form I-9.