As employers continue adapting to the remote and hybrid workplace, keeping an eye on one of the biggest challenges to fully remote onboarding grows increasingly crucial. This challenge is the employment eligibility verification process, otherwise called Form I-9. However, a rule proposed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could ease the struggles when processing an I-9 document.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, employers verified workers’ employment eligibility in person. However, since the pandemic, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has introduced a temporary policy to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This policy allowed remote employers to examine workers’ documents remotely. Allowed tools included video, fax, or email. This policy has been extended several times, with the expiration most recently set for October 31st, 2022.
In a recently proposed rule, the DHS has suggested permanent changes to the Form I-9 for remote workforces. Though the change does not explicitly provide for the virtual examination, it does permit the Secretary to introduce alternative procedures. Alternatives include pilot programs in the event of public health or other national emergencies or upon a determination that they offer an equivalent level of security.
In its proposed rule, the DHS outlined some of the alternative measures the Department is considering to provide both convenience for employers and an equivalent level of security:
The DHS’s proposed rule indicates that changes are on the way, though it remains unclear what changes employers can expect. To stay compliant with the ever-shifting regulations, employers should consider utilizing an electronic I-9 system. Tools like an electronic I-9 system can simplify the process and guide hiring personnel at every step.
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