U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has issued a final rule, effective August 23, 2010, providing that employers and recruiters or referrers for a fee who are required to complete and retain the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) may sign the form electronically and retain it in an electronic format. The final rule makes minor changes to an interim final rule promulgated in 2006.
The final rule’s supplementary information notes that the employer does not file the completed I-9 form with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but rather the employer retains the completed form and must make it available for inspection upon a request by ICE investigators or other authorized federal officials. Employers must keep the I-9 in their own files for three years after the date of hire of the employee or one year after the date that employment is terminated, whichever is later. Recruiters or referrers for a fee must keep each I-9 for three years after the date of hire. Failure to properly complete and retain each I-9 may subject the employer or recruiter or referrer for a fee to civil money penalties.
Among other things, the final rule clarifies that:
- Employers may use paper, electronic systems, or a combination of paper and electronic systems;
- Employers may change electronic storage systems as long as the systems meet the performance requirements of the regulations;
- Employers need not retain audit trails recording each time an I-9 is electronically viewed, but only when the I-9 is created, completed, updated, modified, altered, or corrected; and,
- Employers may provide or transmit a confirmation of an I-9 transaction, but are not required to do so unless the employee requests a copy.
The final rule, which includes “performance standards” for electronic filing processes and systems, is available here.