Electronic Form I-9 Standard: What Does DHS Say About it?
Employers often have questions about I-9s. This is what the I-9 regulation adopted by the Department of Homeland Security says, as codified in Section 274a.2: of Title 8, Part 8 (Control of Employment of Aliens):
e) Standards for electronic retention of Form I-9:
(1) Any person or entity who is required by this section to complete and retain Forms I-9 may complete or retain electronically only those pages of the Form I-9 on which employers and employees enter data in an electronic generation or storage system that includes:
(i) Reasonable controls to ensure the integrity, accuracy and reliability of the electronic generation or storage system;
(ii) Reasonable controls designed to prevent and detect the unauthorized or accidental creation of, addition to, alteration of, deletion of, or deterioration of an electronically completed or stored Form I-9, including the electronic signature if used;
(iii) An inspection and quality assurance program evidenced by regular evaluations of the electronic generation or storage system, including periodic checks of the electronically stored Form I-9, including the electronic signature if used;
(iv) In the case of electronically retained Forms I-9, a retrieval system that includes an indexing system that permits searches consistent with the requirements of paragraph (e)(6) of this section; and
(v) The ability to reproduce legible and readable hardcopies.
(2) All documents reproduced by the electronic retention system must exhibit a high degree of legibility and readability when displayed on a video display terminal or when printed on paper, microfilm, or microfiche. The term “legibility” means the observer must be able to identify all letters and numerals positively and quickly, to the exclusion of all other letters or numerals. The term “readability” means that the observer must be able to recognize any group of letters or numerals that form words or numbers as those words or complete numbers. The employer, or recruiter or referrer for a fee, must ensure that the reproduction process maintains the legibility and readability of the electronically stored document.
(3) An electronic generation or storage system must not be subject, in whole or in part, to any agreement (such as a contract or license) that would limit or restrict access to and use of the electronic generation or storage system by an agency of the United States, on the premises of the employer, recruiter or referrer for a fee (or at any other place where the electronic generation or storage system is maintained), including personnel, hardware, software, files, indexes, and software documentation.
(4) A person or entity who chooses to complete or retain Forms I-9 electronically may use one or more electronic generation or storage systems. Each electronic generation or storage system must meet the requirements of this paragraph, and remain available as long as required by the Act and these regulations. Employers may implement new electronic storage systems provided:
(i) All systems meet the requirements of paragraphs (e), (f), (g), (h) and (i) of this section; and
(ii) Existing Forms I-9 are retained in a system that remains fully accessible.
(5) For each electronic generation or storage system used, the person or entity retaining the Form I-9 must maintain, and make available upon request, complete descriptions of:
(i) The electronic generation and storage system, including all procedures relating to its use; and
(ii) The indexing system.
(6) An “indexing system” for the purposes of paragraphs (e)(1)(iv) and (e)(5) of this section is a system that permits the identification and retrieval for viewing or reproducing of relevant documents and records maintained in an electronic storage system. For example, an indexing system might consist of assigning each electronically stored document a unique identification number and maintaining a separate database that contains descriptions of all electronically stored books and records along with their identification numbers. In addition, any system used to maintain, organize, or coordinate multiple electronic storage systems is treated as an indexing system. The requirement to maintain an indexing system will be satisfied if the indexing system is functionally comparable to a reasonable hardcopy filing system. The requirement to maintain an indexing system does not require that a separate electronically stored documents and records description database be maintained if comparable results can be achieved without a separate description database.
(7) Any person or entity choosing to retain completed Forms I-9 electronically may use reasonable data compression or formatting technologies as part of the electronic storage system as long as the requirements of 8 CFR 274a.2 are satisfied.
(8) At the time of an inspection, the person or entity required to retain completed Forms I-9 must:
(i) Retrieve and reproduce (including printing copies on paper, if requested) only the Forms I-9 electronically retained in the electronic storage system and supporting documentation specifically requested by an agency of the United States, along with associated audit trails. Generally, an audit trail is a record showing who has accessed a computer system and the actions performed within or on the computer system during a given period of time;
(ii) Provide a requesting agency of the United States with the resources (e.g., appropriate hardware and software, personnel and documentation) necessary to locate, retrieve, read, and reproduce (including paper copies) any electronically stored Forms I-9, any supporting documents, and their associated audit trails, reports, and other data used to maintain the authenticity, integrity, and reliability of the records; and
(iii) Provide, if requested, any reasonably available or obtainable electronic summary file(s), such as a spreadsheet, containing all of the information fields on all of the electronically stored Forms I-9 requested by a requesting agency of the United States.
(f) Documentation. (1) A person or entity who chooses to complete and/or retain Forms I-9 electronically must maintain and make available to an agency of the United States upon request documentation of the business processes that:
(i) Create the retained Forms I-9;
(ii) Modify and maintain the retained Forms I-9; and
(iii) Establish the authenticity and integrity of the Forms I-9, such as audit trails.
(2) Insufficient or incomplete documentation is a violation of section 274A(a)(1)(B) of the Act.
(3) Any officer listed in 8 CFR 287.4 may issue a subpoena to compel production of any documentation required by 8 CFR 274a.2. Nothing in this section is intended to limit the subpoena power of an agency of the United States under section 235(d)(4) of the Act.
(g) Security. (1) Any person or entity who elects to complete or retain Forms I-9 electronically must implement an effective records security program that:
(i) Ensures that only authorized personnel have access to electronic records;
(ii) Provides for backup and recovery of records to protect against information loss, such as power interruptions;
(iii) Ensures that employees are trained to minimize the risk of unauthorized or accidental alteration or erasure of electronic records; and
(iv) Ensure that whenever the electronic record is created, completed, updated, modified, altered, or corrected, a secure and permanent record is created that establishes the date of access, the identity of the individual who accessed the electronic record, and the particular action taken.
(2) An action or inaction resulting in the unauthorized alteration, loss, or erasure of electronic records, if it is known, or reasonably should be known, to be likely to have that effect, is a violation of section 274A(b)(3) of the Act.
(h) Electronic signatures for employee. (1) If a Form I-9 is completed electronically, the attestations in Form I-9 must be completed using a system for capturing an electronic signature that meets the standards set forth in this paragraph. The system used to capture the electronic signature must include a method to acknowledge that the attestation to be signed has been read by the signatory. The electronic signature must be attached to, or logically associated with, an electronically completed Form I-9. In addition, the system must:
(i) Affix the electronic signature at the time of the transaction;
(ii) Create and preserve a record verifying the identity of the person producing the signature; and
(iii) Upon request of the employee, provide a printed confirmation of the transaction to the person providing the signature.
(2) Any person or entity who is required to ensure proper completion of a Form I-9 and who chooses electronic signature for a required attestation, but who has failed to comply with the standards set forth in this paragraph, is deemed to have not properly completed the Form I-9, in violation of section 274A(a)(1)(B) of the Act and 8 CFR 274a.2(b)(2).
(i) Electronic signatures for employer, recruiter or referrer, or representative. If a Form I-9 is completed electronically, the employer, the recruiter or referrer for a fee, or the representative of the employer or the recruiter or referrer, must attest to the required information in 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. Any person or entity who has failed to comply with the criteria established by this regulation for electronic signatures, if used, and at the time of inspection does not present a properly completed Form I-9 for the employee, is in violation of section 274A(a)(1)(B) of the Act and 8 CFR 274a.2(b)(2).”
Mira Mdivani, Business Immigration Attorney MDIVANI CORPORATE IMMIGRATION LAW FIRM 7007 College Blvd., # 460, Overland Park, KS 66211 USA Phone :: 913.317.6200 Email :: MMdivani@uslegalimmigration.com