How long should we retain I-9 forms?

Q. We’ve been keeping I-9 forms for an indefinite period. Now I hear we only have to keep them for three years for active employees and one year for terminated employees. Which is correct? — C.F., Ohio

A. You must keep I-9 forms for three years from the person’s date of hire or one year from the date of discharge, whichever is later.

For example, let’s say you hired an employee on Jan. 1, 2010, and terminated him a year later on Jan. 1, 2011. You’d have to keep his I-9 forms until Jan. 1, 2013 (three years from the date of hire, which is later than Jan. 1, 2012, one year from the termination date).