Retaining Form I-9 – USCIS Requirements


By Imagility

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In the realm of employment compliance, keeping track of Form I-9 documents stands as a crucial responsibility for employers. Understanding the rules and practices involved in retaining these records is pivotal to meeting the standards set by USCIS. Let’s delve into the specifics to demystify the complexities around how long to retain Form I-9 records and the best practices to ensure compliance.

Duration Requirements by USCIS

USCIS mandates that employers maintain a completed Form I-9 for each employee hired after specific dates. Never dispose of an existing employee’s Form I-9; these records must be retained as long as the employee works for your organization and for a specified duration post-employment.

Employers retain Form I-9 based on an employee’s duration with the company. Here’s a simplified breakdown:

  • Employers must maintain the I-9 forms of employees who have worked for less than two years, for three years from the date entered in the “First Day of Employment” field.
  • Keep the I-9 forms of employees employed for over two years, for an additional year after their employment cessation.

Here are a few examples.


  • Jim Anderson (Hired Dec 1, 2018, terminated March 5, 2019): As Jim worked for less than 2 years, his form should be retained until Dec 1, 2021.
  • Ajay (Hired Sept. 5, 2005, terminated March 25, 2021): As Ajay worked for more than 2 years, his form should be retained until March 25, 2022.

Methods of Retention

Form I-9s can be retained in paper or electronic formats, only necessitating the preservation of pages with documented information. The instructions, blank supplement pages, or Lists of Acceptable Documents need not be retained.

Ensuring Compliance in Record Retention

Retaining Form I-9 documents is more than a procedural requirement; it’s a legal obligation. Failure to maintain adequate records can lead to violations under INA regulations. Employers can retain completed forms on paper, microfilm, or microfiche. It’s essential to ensure clarity and accessibility of these records.


Form I-9 retention is a crucial aspect of immigration compliance. Understanding the duration, methods, and compliance requirements in retaining these documents is key to safeguarding your organization’s compliance with USCIS regulations.

For more comprehensive guidance on Form I-9 retention or other immigration compliance inquiries, consult our experts at Imagility at +1 603 782 4622/+1 617 865 6588.

Form I-9 – Helpful Resources

Form I-9 Playbook
Navigating the I-9 Form 2023: What You Need to Know
DHS Ends Form I-9 Requirement Flexibility
Internal I-9 Form Corrections and Audit Instructions
I-9 Requirements for Remote Workers – Tips to Prevent Violations
The Ultimate Guide to Form I-9: A Comprehensive Resource for Employers and HR Professionals
Form I-9 Datasheet

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