Do You Know How Long to Keep Form I-9?

It’s nearing the end of 2018, and companies may be thinking about getting organized for the New Year. This could include storing or purging I-9 forms. Before you start deleting electronically stored documents, shredding, or calling the recycling company or moving paper documents into storage, you may want to verify how long you must retain your I-9 forms.

If you are in a Human Resources role or responsible for hiring workers in your company, then you’re most likely familiar with Form I-9. Form I-9 is used for verifying the identity and employment authorization of individuals hired for employment in the United States. All U.S. employers must ensure proper completion of Form I-9 for everyone they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and non-citizens. Both employees and employers (or authorized representatives of the employer) must complete the form.

Acceptable evidence

On the form, an employee must attest to his or her employment authorization. The employee must also present his or her employer with acceptable documents evidencing identity and employment authorization. The employer must personally examine the employment eligibility and identity document(s) an employee presents to determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the employee, and record the document information on Form I-9.

There are so many details in completing Form I-9 correctly. You might think that is where the heavy lifting stops. But did you know there are also many details in retaining and purging Form I-9?

How long

Employers must retain each employee’s completed Form I-9 for as long as the worker is on the payroll. Once an employee no longer works for the organization, HR must determine how long to retain and store the form: either three years after the date of hire or one year after the termination date, whichever is later. I-9 forms should always be maintained separately from personnel files and retained according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) retention requirements.

Proper disposal

Remember to properly dispose of your organization’s Form I-9s once their retention period comes to an end. Since Form I-9 has personal and confidential information, ensure that you destroy documents – whether paper or digital – in a way that they cannot be reproduced-.

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