The U.S. Department of Homeland Security ( DHS ) has finalized a regulation that provides greater flexibility for employers to electronically sign and store I-9 forms, which are used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ( ICE ) to verify employment eligibility-eliminating the need for paper filing and streamlining efforts to ensure a legal workforce nationwide.
Previously, employers were required to store the paper forms for later inspection by DHS and ICE. DHS adopted rules in 2006 permitting electronic storage of employment verification forms, consistent with the electronic storage rules for tax records, and this rule provides additional flexibility for employers-including more options for data compression, fewer storage requirements, and more options for storage systems, among others.
The agency says the final ruled addresses specific concerns many employers had expressed during the public notice and comment period on the 2006 interim final rule.
In April 2009, DHS issued updated worksite enforcement guidance to the field emphasizing ICE's major enforcement priorities-focusing on dangerous criminal aliens and employers who knowingly cultivate illegal workplaces and exploit illegal workers. As part of this strategy, ICE identified I-9 audits as an important administrative tool in building criminal cases, issuing civil penalties such as fines and bringing employers into compliance with the law.