The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently published a final rule (a regulation) relating to signatures and storage of electronic I-9 forms. Important information for employers regarding this new rule are:

  • I-9 Completion in 3 Business Days. Employers have three “business days” to complete Section 2 of the I-9 (the section of the form where the employer reviews the new hire's documents and verifies the new hire's authorization to work). For most employers, this means that weekend days and federal holidays will not count. However, retailers and other employers who ordinarily conduct business on weekends will want to count weekend days as business days.  
  • Employers May Use Combined Systems of Paper and Electronic I-9s. Employers who wish to implement an electronic I-9 system need not do so at all locations to comply with the I-9 rule. Employers may use an electronic system at one location and maintain paper records at another. Similarly, employers using an electronic I-9 system are not required to move all of their I-9s for terminated employees into the electronic system.
  • Employers May Change Electronic Storage Systems. Employers have the flexibility to change from one storage system to another, as long as the new system is still compliant with the system requirements described in the regulation.  
  • Employers Need Not Maintain Audit Trails for Viewing Electronic I-9s. While employers still must maintain audit trails for the creation, completion, updating, modification, alteration and correction of electronic I-9s, no audit trail is needed for an instance where someone is merely viewing the document.
  • Employers Must Provide the Employee with a Receipt/Transaction Record if Asked. Employers must provide an employee with a transaction record, such as a printed copy of the I-9, if the employee requests it.

We recommend that employers who are considering a transition from paper to electronic I-9 completion and storage consult with counsel to discuss the electronic I-9 requirements before implementing a new system.