12 Tips for Storing Electronic I-9s

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Hey Compliance Warriors and Bosses!


I frequently get questions regarding how to store I-9s electronically. So, I put together 12 Tips to assist you in your transition from paper to digital I-9 storage.


1. Ensure Compliance with E-Verify Requirements

If your organization participates in E-Verify, it’s crucial to ensure that your electronic storage system aligns with E-Verify program requirements. E-Verify is an internet-based system that compares information from an employee’s Form I-9 to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) records. Compliance includes maintaining accurate records, following specific procedural guidelines, and ensuring data integrity and security.

2. Use Secure, Authorized Systems

Choose an electronic storage system that is secure and has been authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Such systems should comply with the standards set forth by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to ensure the integrity and security of the stored I-9 forms. Look for systems that offer encryption, access controls, and regular updates to keep up with security standards.

3. Maintain Data Security

Data security is paramount when storing sensitive employee information. Implement robust security measures such as:

  • Encryption: Ensure that data is encrypted both in transit and at rest to protect it from unauthorized access.
  • Firewalls: Use firewalls to protect your network from external threats.
  • Regular Security Audits: Conduct regular security audits to identify and rectify vulnerabilities in your storage system.

4. Regular Backups

Conduct regular backups of your electronic I-9s to prevent data loss. Schedule backups to occur at consistent intervals (e.g., daily, weekly) and store these backups in a secure, off-site location. This ensures that you can recover your data in the event of a system failure, natural disaster, or other emergencies.

5. Access Control

Restrict access to electronic I-9s to authorized personnel only. Implement role-based access controls that limit the ability to view, modify, or delete records to those who have a legitimate need. This reduces the risk of unauthorized access and potential data breaches.

6. Audit Trails

Ensure that your electronic storage system includes an audit trail feature. This feature should log all access to I-9 records, including who accessed the records, what actions were taken, and when these actions occurred. Audit trails are essential for maintaining accountability and can be critical during internal audits or investigations.

7. Retention Period

Adhere to federal retention requirements for I-9 forms. The law requires that employers retain I-9 forms for three years after the date of hire or one year after the employee’s termination, whichever is later. Ensure your electronic storage system can manage these retention schedules and automate alerts for when records are due for deletion.

8. Regular Audits

Conduct periodic internal audits of your electronic I-9 records to ensure compliance with legal requirements and company policies. Audits should check for completeness, accuracy, and adherence to retention schedules. Regular audits help identify and correct any discrepancies or non-compliance issues early.

9. Training and Awareness

Provide ongoing training for HR personnel and other relevant staff on the proper procedures for handling, storing, and maintaining electronic I-9s. Training should cover:

  • Legal requirements: Understanding the legal obligations related to I-9 forms.
  • System usage: How to use the electronic storage system securely and efficiently.
  • Data security: Best practices for protecting sensitive information.

10. Disaster Recovery Plan

Develop a comprehensive disaster recovery plan that includes specific procedures for recovering electronic I-9s. This plan should address:

  • Backup restoration: How to restore data from backups in case of data loss.
  • System recovery: Steps to take if the electronic storage system fails.
  • Communication protocols: How to communicate with stakeholders during a disaster.

11. Legal Compliance

Stay informed about changes to I-9 compliance requirements. Regularly review updates from DHS, ICE, and other relevant authorities to ensure your electronic storage system and procedures remain compliant. Update your practices promptly in response to new regulations or guidance.

12. Vendor Reliability

If you use third-party vendors for electronic storage, ensure they are reliable and comply with all legal requirements. Conduct due diligence by:

  • Evaluating security measures: Ensure the vendor’s security practices meet your standards.
  • Reviewing compliance: Verify that the vendor complies with relevant legal and regulatory requirements.
  • Monitoring performance: Regularly review the vendor’s performance and security measures to ensure they continue to meet your needs.


By following these 12 steps, you can effectively manage and store electronic I-9s while ensuring compliance with legal requirements and safeguarding employee information. This approach will help protect your organization from potential legal issues and data breaches, providing a secure and compliant environment for handling employee records.

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