9.0 Retaining Form I-9

How Long Must I Keep a Form I-9?

You must keep a completed Form I-9 on file for each employee on your payroll (or otherwise receiving remuneration) who was hired after Nov. 6, 1986 (or on or before Nov. 27, 2009, if employed in the CNMI). Never dispose of a current employee’s Form I-9; you must keep it for as long as the employee works for you, and for a certain amount of time after they stop working for you. This requirement applies even if the employee ends employment shortly after you hired them.

Never mail Form I-9 to USCIS or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Only when an employee stops working for you should you calculate how much longer you must keep their Form I-9. Federal regulations state you must retain a Form I-9 for each person you hire for three years after the date of hire, or one year after the date employment ends, whichever is later.
To calculate how long to keep a former employee’s Form I-9:

  • If they worked for less than two years, retain their form for three years after the date you entered in the First Day of Employment field.
  • If they worked for more than two years, retain their form for one year after the date they stop working for you.

You can retain Form I-9 on paper, microfilm or microfiche, or electronically. You only need to retain pages that you and your employee wrote information on: for example, you don’t need to keep the Lists of Acceptable Documents page or the instructions.  

Insufficient or incomplete documentation is a violation of section 274A (a)(1)(B) of the INA (8 CFR Part 274a .2(f)(2)).

Retaining Paper Form I-9

You may retain completed paper forms with original handwritten signatures on-site or at an off-site storage facility for the required retention period, as long as you are able to present Forms I-9 within three business days of an inspection request from DHS, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER), or U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) officers.

Retaining Form I-9 on Microfilm and Microfiche

You may retain copies of completed paper forms with original handwritten signatures on microfilm or microfiche. When using microfilm or microfiche, you should:

  • Select film stock that will preserve the image and allow its access and use for the entire retention period, which could be more than 20 years, depending on the employee and your business;
  • Use well-maintained equipment to create and view clear, readable Forms I-9 and reproduce legible paper copies for officials who inspect your forms;
  • Place indexes either in the first frames of the first roll of film or in the last frames of the last roll of film of a series. For microfiche, place them in the last frames of the last jacket of a series.

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