Q: Can I-9 Forms be stored electronically?
A: Employers may store Form I-9 in paper, microfiche, microfilm, or electronically. Employers that chose to store the I-9 electronically, however, must comply with extensive electronic storage requirements.
To store the Form I-9 electronically, employers much meet the following requirements:
• The resulting form is legible
• No change is made to the name, content, or sequences of the data elements and instructions
• No additional data elements or language are inserted
• The employee receives the Form I-9 instructions
• The standards specified in the federal regulations are met
Federal regulations require electronic I-9 systems to include the following:
• Reasonable controls to ensure the integrity, accuracy, and reliability of the electronic storage system
• Reasonable controls designed to prevent and detect the unauthorized or accidental creation of, addition to, alteration of, deletion of, or deterioration of an electronically completed or stored Form I-9, including the electronic signature if used
• An inspection and quality assurance program evidenced by regular evaluations of the electronic generation or storage system, including periodic checks of electronically stored Forms I-9, including the electronic signature if used
• A retrieval system that includes an indexing system that permits searches by any data element
• The ability to reproduce legible and readable hardcopies
Employers should not undertake electronic storage without fully understanding these legal requirements. Scanning Forms I-9 and saving them as pdf documents is not sufficient to satisfy the requirements for electronic storage.
Also, note that these electronic storage rules do not relieve employers of the requirement to personally examine the original documents provided by employees. Verification cannot be done electronically or via fax or email.