How Long Do You Have to Keep I-9 Forms?
How Long Do You Have to Keep I-9 Forms?

How Long Do You Need to Keep I-9 Forms?

Noel Diem |

Employment documentation is a daunting task for HR leaders and business owners. However, there are few documents that cause quite as much confusion as the I-9 form.

Why does this one form confuse so many leaders? The requirements always change! However, a question we see a lot is this one; how long do you keep I-9 forms?
Having an understanding of this is crucial to staying compliant. Keeping it long enough ensures you’re aligned with regulations and avoiding potential penalties.
Let’s delve into the ins and outs of I-9 forms, their retention period, and best practices for storage.

The Purpose of I-9 Forms

When hiring in the US, employers must verify identity and employment authorization. They need to do this for each employee.

This is where Form I-9 comes into play.

Form I-9 establishes that employers and employees meet their legal obligations under immigration law. Why do we need to do this? It:

  • Ensures employers have verified an individual’s eligibility to work in the U. S.
  • Helps prevent unauthorized individuals from being employed
  • Protects against discrimination by ensuring all employees provide the same documentation

Employers must complete Form I-9 for every new hire within tres days of their start date. By doing so, they contribute to a more inclusive and lawful workforce while upholding federal regulations designed to maintain a fair working environment for all employees.

How long do you have to keep I-9 forms?

How Long Do You Need to Keep I-9 Forms?

When it comes to I-9 forms, one common question that arises is how long they need to be kept on file. After all, it can be difficult to organize all of these items without an I-9 management system.

To be compliant, you must understand the retention requirements surrounding these forms. The general rule is that businesses must keep I-9 forms for tres years after the date of hire o one year after the employee’s employment ends, whichever is later.

This means that even if an employee leaves your organization, you still need to keep their I-9 form. Up-to-date I-9 records do more than ensure compliance. They also protect your business in case of an audit. Failure to produce these documents during an audit can result in significant fines and penalties.

Some other best practices for I-9 form storage include:

  • Keeping them separate from personnel files
  • Ensuring accessibility for audits
  • Maintaining employee data privacy
  • Be proactive in managing your documentation to avoid potential legal consequences down the line.

If you want to stay up to date on rules and regulations for current employees and hires, there are three organizations to follow:

  1. ICE – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    USCIS – United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
  2. DHS – Department of Homeland Security
  3. You can also follow companies that have e-verify and I-9 software, like Mitratech.

Consequences of Not Keeping I-9 Forms

Failing to keep I-9 forms on file can lead to serious consequences for your business. Non-compliance with regulations can result in hefty fines and legal penalties.
ICE regularly conducts audits to ensure that employers are following the rules. Employers lacking proper documentation can face thousands of dollars in fines – PER VIOLATION. If this is an ongoing issue, criminal charges could be filed. These charge would be against the company officials responsible for maintaining I-9 records.

But those aren’t the only concerns!

Lack of accurate record-keeping also opens up the possibility of discrimination claims. If certain employees were singled out for verification while others weren’t, this could lead to allegations of discriminatory practices within your organization. Staying up-to-date with I-9 compliance is crucial to avoid these negative outcomes.

Best Practices for Storing and Retaining I-9 Forms

When it comes to storing and retaining I-9 forms, maintaining organized records is key.

Here’s a step by step guide for best practices:

  1. Create a designated filing system for these forms to ensure easy access when needed.
  2. Consider using electronic storage solutions that offer secure encryption to protect sensitive information.
  3. Regularly audit your records to verify compliance with retention requirements.
  4. Create a clear policy outlining the procedures for storing and disposing of I-9 forms. Make sure this policy adheres to legal guidelines.
  5. Train staff on proper record-keeping practices to minimize errors and maintain accuracy.
  6. Consider appointing a dedicated individual or team to oversee the storage and retention of I-9 forms.

By establishing clear responsibilities and protocols, you can enhance efficiency and reduce the risk of noncompliance issues arising in the future.

Exceptions to the Retention Period

There are specific exceptions to the standard retention period for I-9 forms that employers should know. They are as follows:

  1. If an employee was hired but then fired within three years from the date of hire. In this case, their I-9 form must be kept for one year after termination OR three years after the date of hire – whichever is longer.
  2. Another exception pertains to government contractors with covered contracts. In this scenario, employers must retain the I-9 forms for one year after the contract ends.

Understanding these nuances can help prevent potential penalties or legal issues. It also ensures you know the laws fully, encouraging trust in your decision making.

Do I need to keep copies for I-9 documents?

Yes, you need to keep copies of your I-9 documents for employee eligibility verification. This will also make it easy for things like reverification, an I-9 audit, working with recruiters, providing work authorization, and onboarding new employees.

How Long Should You Keep Form I-9?

Understanding how long you need to keep I-9 forms is crucial for compliance with federal regulations. By following the guidelines and best practices for storing and retaining these forms, you can avoid potential penalties and fines.

Remember that maintaining organized records of I-9 forms not only ensures legal compliance but also promotes a smooth operation within your organization. Stay informed about any updates or changes in regulations to stay on top of your record-keeping responsibilities.

Still struggling with Form I-9 Compliance? Take control today!

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