Q: Can I Throw Away the Paper I-9 Once It’s Been Scanned and Saved?

Yesterday, I spoke to Delaware and Pennsylvania employers and HR professionals about documentation and record-retention issues. Two of the most popular topics were I-9 compliance and electronic or paperless recordkeeping. I mentioned to attendees a new publication that addresses both topics.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ new Handbook for Employers (pdf) is a document that anyone with I-9 responsibility should download.  The Handbook is a comprehensive 69-page guidebook to I-9 compliance. Among the many topics discussed in detail is electronic maintenance of I-9 files.

Here’s USCIS’s answer to the question, “Can I throw away the paper I-9 once it’s been scanned and saved electronically”:

You may choose to fill out a paper Form I-9 and scan and upload the original signed form to retain it electronically. Once you have securely stored Form I-9 in electronic format, you may destroy the original paper Form I-9.

And what about if you want to adopt a completely paperless system with electronic, as opposed to traditional, signatures?  Here’s what USCIS has to say on the issue:

If you complete Forms I-9 electronically using an electronic signature, your system for capturing electronic signatures must allow signatories to acknowledge that they read the attestation and attach the electronic signature to an electronically completed Form I-9. The system must also:

1. Affix the electronic signature at the time of the transaction;

2. Create and preserve a record verifying the identity of the person producing the signature; and

3. Upon request of the employee, provide a printed confirmation of the transaction to the person providing the signature.

Employers who complete Forms I-9 electronically must attest to the required information in Section 2 of Form I-9. The system used to capture the electronic signature should include a method to acknowledge that the attestation to be signed has been read by the signatory.

For employers and human-resource professionals who have been considering making the switch to a paperless or digital system for HR records, this guidance from USCIS should eliminate any concerns when it comes to I-9 compliance.