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Storing Form I-9

Form I-9 requires the collection of personal information about employees. Employers should keep this in mind when determining how to retain and store completed Forms I-9 so that personal information does not get into the wrong hands. You should store completed Forms I-9 and any copies of documents in a manner that fits your business needs and the requirement to make Forms I-9 available for inspection.  Typically, employers store completed Forms I-9 and accompanying documents.

  • On-site or at an off-site storage facility
  • With personnel records or separate from personnel records
  • In a single format or a combination of formats
    • paper
    • microfilm or microfiche
    • electronic

Officers from the Department of Homeland Security, employees from the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices at the Department of Justice (DOJ), and employees from the Department of Labor (DOL) may ask to inspect these forms.

No matter how you choose to store Forms I-9, you must be able to present them to government officials for inspection within three days of the date on which the forms were requested.

Form I-9 contains personal information about employees. When storing these forms (regardless of the format you choose), USCIS recommends that employers provide adequate safeguards to protect employee information.

Storing the Original Paper Forms I-9

If an employer chooses to keep paper copies of the documents employees present, he or she may store them with the employee’s Form I-9 or with the employees’ records.  However, USCIS recommends that employers keep Forms I-9 separate from personnel records to facilitate an inspection request.

Storing Forms I-9 on Microfilm or Microfiche

Employers may keep copies of original, signed Forms I-9 on microfilm or microfiche. Select film stock that will preserve the image and allow its access and use for the entire retention period.

Microfilm or microfiche must

  • exhibit a high degree of legibility and readability when displayed on a reader (viewer) or reproduced on paper
  • include a detailed index of all data so that any particular record can be accessed immediately

If an officer notifies an employer of an inspection, the employer must provide the microfilm or microfiche and a reader-printer that

  • provides safety features
  • is in clean condition, properly maintained and in good working order
  • is able to display and print a complete page of information

Once employers have preserved Forms I-9 on microfilm or microfiche, they may destroy the paper originals.

Storing Forms I-9 Electronically

Employers may use a paper system, an electronic system or a combination of paper and electronic systems to store Forms I-9. An electronic storage system must:

  • Include controls to ensure the integrity, accuracy and reliability of the electronic storage system.
  • Include controls to detect and prevent the unauthorized or accidental creation of, addition to, alteration of, deletion of or deterioration of an electronically stored Form I-9, including the electronic signature, if used.
  • Include 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 an appropriate government agency inspecting the forms.
  • Include an inspection and quality assurance program that regularly evaluates the electronic generation or storage system, and includes periodic checks of electronically stored Forms I-9, including the electronic signature, if used.
  • Include a detailed index of all data so that any particular record can be accessed immediately.
  • Produce a high degree of legibility and readability when displayed on a video display terminal or reproduced on paper.
Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/08/2013