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04.02.20   |   COVID-19, Insights

Employers with Solely Remote Workforces due to COVID-19 are Afforded Temporary Flexibility of Form I-9 Requirements

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On March 20, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19.

This provision only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely.

Employers with employees working remotely due to COVID-19 physical proximity precautions will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence upon the initial completion of the employee’s Form 1-9 at the time of hire. However, employers must do the following: 

  1. If there are any employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being implemented at this time for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9.
  2. Employers that have their entire workforce working remotely may avail themselves of this option if they provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee. 
  3. Employers may inspect the Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over a video link, fax or email, etc.) and obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents, within three business days for purposes of completing Section 2. Employers also should enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in Section 2 “Additional Information” field. 
  4. Once normal operations resume, all employees who were onboarded using remote verification must report to their employer within three business days for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for the I-9. 
  5. Once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer should add “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection to the Section 2 “Additional Information” field on the Form I-9, or to Section 3 as appropriate.

These provisions may be utilized by employers for a period of 60 days from the date of the announcement (until May 19, 2020) OR within 3 business days after the termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first.

E-Verify participants who choose the remote inspection option should follow current guidance and create cases for their new hires within three business days from the date of hire. Please see the E-Verify website for additional information, and do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.

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