Submitted by: Karyn Oyler, SPHR

All across the country, binders and file cabinets are full of I-9 forms. As HR moves closer to a paperless environment, questions regarding compliance emerge.

On June 21, SHRM posted an article by Allen Smith entitled “DHS Issues Final Rule on Electronic Signature and Storage of I-9 Forms”. The article outlines the requirements of the final rule and highlights the changes from the interim rule.

Here is a brief outline of the guidelines provided by DHS:

• Employers are permitted to complete, sign, scan and store the Form I-9 electronically as long as certain performance standards set forth in the final rule for the electronic filing system are met.

• Employers are only required to retain the form that contains the employer- and employee-entered data. The pages containing the instructions for completing the Form I-9 do not need to be retained.

• Employers must complete Form I-9 within three business days.

• 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 for each time a Form I-9 is viewed electronically, but only when the Form I-9 is created, completed, updated, modified, altered or corrected.

• Employers may provide or transmit a confirmation of a Form I-9 transaction but are not required to do so unless the employee requests a copy.

• Employers may (but are not required to) copy or make an electronic image of a document used to comply. However, employers should apply consistent policies and procedures for all employees to avoid discrimination.

• Employers may store Form I-9 and verification documentation in a separate I-9 file or they may be stored as part of the employee’s “other employment records”.

• Employers are required to provide or transmit a confirmation of the transaction only if an employee requests it. If requested, a receipt when completing an electronic record should be provided within a reasonable period of time, but it need not be provided at the time of the transaction.

But DHS cautioned that providing the option of electronic preparation and storage does not alter the requirement that the employer physically examine any documentation provided by the employee in the presence of the employee prior to completing the Form I-9.

The final rule takes effect Aug. 23, 2010.

For additional information on the article by Allen Smith, click the following link:
http://www.shrm.org/LegalIssues/FederalResources/Pages/DHSElectronicStorage.aspx

To read the final rule by the Department of Homeland Security, click the following link and 42575 as the page number. http://www.gpoaccess.gov/fr/retrieve.html

To download the latest version of the I-9 form and a Handbook for Employers, click the following link: http://www.uscis.gov/i-9