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Interim Rule Allows Electronic Completion and Retention of I-9 Forms

Volume 5, Issue 11
August 9, 2006

The Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement published an interim rule on June 15, 2006 which allows employers to complete and store I-9 Forms electronically. The interim rule became effective on June 15, 2006.

The interim rule does not advocate that all employers retain I-9s electronically, and an employer that is currently complying with the recordkeeping and retention requirements of the law is not required to take any additional or different action to comply with this interim rule. Instead, the rule offers each employer a choice. Employers are permitted to complete and store I-9 forms electronically as long as the resulting form is legible, there is no change to the name, content, or sequence of the data elements and instructions, no additional data elements or language are inserted and certain performance standards for electronic filing and signature systems are met.

Presently, the I-9 Form is available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website in PDF format. The Department of Homeland Security is upgrading this downloadable PDF version to enable employers and employees to electronically sign and save the I-9 form. The interim rule does not modify the substantive requirements of the I-9 Form or the obligations it imposes upon employers and employees. Instead, it simply modifies the law to allow an employee and the employer to complete the Form electronically, sign the Form electronically, and store the Form electronically. If an employer chooses to complete I-9 Forms electronically, it must use a system that can capture an electronic signature that meets certain standards set forth in the interim rule.

Employers who already utilize electronic application and personnel record systems can rely upon the rule in expanding their electronic processes provided they ensure that their systems meet all standards established by the rule. Alternatively, employers committed to completing paper personnel records may find the rule useful for storage purposes.

Employer Report articles are for general information only; they are not intended and should not be construed to be legal advice. Reading or replying to such articles does not establish an attorney-client relationship. In addition, because the subject matters and applicable laws discussed in Employer Report articles are often in a state of change and not always applicable to every type of business entity or organization, readers should consult with counsel before making decisions based on the same.