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Friday, August 18, 2017

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Keeping up with new I-9 policies
OPENonline

Keeping up with new I-9 policies

Earlier this year, U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published a revised version of the I-9 employment eligibility form. Minor changes have been made to improve the new form's ease of use, but the manner in which employers must retain and store the document remain largely the same.

Form I-9 verifies a hire's employment qualifications through collection of their personal information, meaning companies should enact safeguards to protect data even after the employee leaves.  

Storing Form I-9

Most organizations will retain and store Form I-9 for three years after the hire date or one year after an employee has been terminated. Paperwork can be stored in either an on-site or off-site facility in three formats - paper, microfilm or microfiche and electronic.

Any storage format you choose should be easily accessible for inspection by the Department of Homeland Security, the Immigrant and Employee Rights Section (IER) at the Department of Justice, and the Department of Labor. Forms must be presentable to government officials within three business days of the date when the documents are requested.

USCIS recommends that employers keep Form I-9 separate from other employee personnel records to help facilitate an inspection request. This adds a layer of security for employees, as any personal data will be protected if the USCIS requests to audit a firm's Form I-9 files.

Other storage methods

Electronic storage is another option, but the system comes with its own set of rules. Among the requirements for storing documents electronically are:

*Controls that ensure the accuracy and reliability of the electronic system

*Methods of preventing unauthorized alteration of electronically stored forms

*Controls in place to trace any alteration made to the form since its creation

Companies may also store original, signed I-9 forms on microfilm or microfiche. Film stock must be easy to read and include a detailed index of data so any record can be accessed immediately.

OPENonline has a paperless solution called I-9 Manager that allows companies to electronically store and validate their I-9 forms. I-9 Manager also helps manage the disposal process by reminding you when forms are expiring.

What about disposal?

Human resources should regularly review the I-9s of terminated employees and destroy them accordingly. A handbook provided by the Department of Homeland Security states that, upon termination, a person's I-9 form must be “retained three years after the date of hire, or one year after the date employment is terminated, whichever is later." 

Employers should then set up alerts to indicate employees with an expiring work authorization date. HR can either enter the date an I-9 should be destroyed in a pre-existing "tickler system," or place the notice in a separate area ordered by destruction date. Shredding forms is the ideal method of disposal.  

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