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Feds finalize I-9 form rules allowing electronic storage

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in Employment Law,HR Management,Human Resources,Leaders & Managers,Management Training

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued final regulations allowing employers to electronically sign and store Form I-9, the federal document that employers must complete to verify the employment eligibility of all employees. The new rules—finalized nearly four years after they were initially proposed—should reduce the need for paper filing.

According to the final regulation, employers may now complete, scan and store Form I-9 electronically. Previously, employers were required to store the paper forms for later inspection by DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The final rule provides additional flexibility for employers—including more options for data compression, fewer storage requirements and greater electronic storage flexibility.

Read the final rule here. It contains details on electronic storage requirements and standards.

In addition to electronic filing and storage, the final rule also clarified that employers must complete I-9s within three business days (not calendar days) of an employee’s date of hire. When calculating the three business days, the date of hire does not count.

Thus, if an employee starts work on a Monday, her I-9 does not need to be completed and filed until Thursday. This is known as “the Thursday rule.”

According to employment law attorney Kevin Lashus of the Greenberg Traurig firm in Texas, the odd calculation reflects inconsistencies between two DHS agencies that deal with immigration issues: ICE and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS), which administers DHS's E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification program.

“Employers must remember, CIS and ICE are different agencies,” Lashus said. “To the extent that CIS is reinterpreting something as it relates to E-Verify may or may not change how ICE reacts during an investigation. ICE has committed to following CIS’s formulation, but has not done so in writing as yet.”

More information about I-9 forms and employment eligibility verification is available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website at www.uscis.gov/I-9.

For a detailed discussion and practical advice on current I-9 issues, check out the recording of The HR Specialist’s popular webinar “I-9 Compliance Workshop: Best Practices to Survive the New ICE Storm,” hosted by Kevin Lashus and fellow Greenberg Traurig attorney Dawn Lurie.

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