The Electronic Signature and Storage of Form I-9, Employment Verification Final Rule was enacted on August 23, 2010 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Rule allowed for electronic completion and storage of the Form I-9 and required a clear audit trail of actions taken for each electronic Form I-9.  Two years later, on August 22, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security issued guidance for its Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents and auditors to follow when collecting electronically generated Form I-9s and analyzing the electronic audit trail.

The guidance memorandum outlines what information to collect during the course of an I-9 inspection and what a minimally acceptable audit trail contains. 

After a Notice of Inspection is issued to an employer, the special agent or investigator will request the following information and documents:

  • Name of the Form I-9 software being used by the company; All internal company processes and procedures related to the generation of, use of, storage of, security of, and inspection and quality assurance programs for the electronically generated Forms I-9;
  • Software indexing system identifying how the electronic information contained in the Form I-9 is linked to a specific employee and the supporting documents;
  • Documentation of the system used to capture the electronic signature, including the identity and attestation of the individual employee electronically signing the Form I-9; 
  • At least one completed and printed electronically-generated Form I-9; and
  • Demonstration of the creation of an electronic Form I-9 from the employer’s system.

When evaluating the documents, the special agent or auditor will look to ensure the audit trail captures at a minimum the following information for each Form I-9:

  • Individual accessing the Form I-9;
  • Date and time the Form I-9 is accessed; and
  • Action taken on the Form I-9.

HSI considers there to be at least 11 steps in the creation and completion of an electronically generated Form I-9 that must be documented in the audit trail (plus additional steps for Forms I-9 that have been reverified or modified/corrected). These actions are listed in a flow chart attached to the Guidance Memo.