VIDEO: What should an employer know about I-9 storage and recordkeeping?

Anyone who’s ever been hired in at a job should have filled out an I-9 employment verification form. Employers are required by law to verify that the person who’s working for them has authorization to be in the United States and to be working. Typically, this is done with a US passport or a US birth certificate. That establishes the right to work for citizens and that, couple with a driver’s license or other form of acceptable photo ID, will be enough for US citizens.

For green card holders, the same thing. If you have your green card and proof of identification, you too can establish you right to work in the United States. For other people, you’re going to need actually employment authorization. That can be done with a EAD or, Employment Authorization Document, and a social security card so that the records are kept that you have the ability to work in the United States and all your income is properly tracked.

A lot of times people are wondering, with the I-9, how long do I have to keep it? The answer to that is simple. Either you keep it one year after the person’s termination date, or if they’ve worked less than three years, then you keep it at the end of the three-year period.

So, if someone were to start on January 1st of 2014 and to work through, say, July 1st of 2014, the employer would keep that I-9 for three years. If the person worked for four and a half years, then they would just be required to keep it for one year after the termination of the employment.

Some people have questions too about storage of the I-9. The best practice is to keep all of your I-9s together. If it’s your custom and practice at the company to take a photocopy of the driver’s licenses and other identifying documents, that’s fine, but you need to keep those stapled to the I-9 itself. And if- You can’t just pick and choose which people you require that kind of identification from. If you’re going to do it for one person, you need to do it for everybody. You need to make sure you don’t single out non-citizens or people who may be perceived as not having work authorization for different treatment.

Employers have been known, especially in the Obama administration, to get in trouble for not properly treating everyone the same. So, a best practice is to keep all of your I-9s together. So, if you staple the identifying information to an I-9, you want to keep all of your I-9s together. You do not want to keep your I-9s in a personnel file, because when you do that, if the Immigration service were to come in and check I-9s, they’d be entitled to look at your entire employment file, not just the I-9s themselves. So, best practices is to keep them in a binder or separated folder for the purposes of I-9 and to keep them in the length of time that we discussed earlier.

If you have any questions about employment authorization or about the I-9 process, feel free to give us a call: 314-961-8200, or you can always shoot me an email at jim@hackinglawpractice.com. We would be happy to help you out. Thank you.