The flexibilities that allowed employers to inspect employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) remotely documentation will soon end. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its subordinate agency, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Agency (USCIS), created this interim guidance in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In line with the current administration’s warning that the COVID-19 health emergencies would end in May 2023, the remote inspection will expire on July 31, 2023.
Since its introduction in March 2020, authorities have extended the flexibility to complete Form I-9s remotely multiple times. Most recently, the agencies extended the policy from November 1, 2022, to its current expiration date of July 31, 2023.
The agencies introduced this flexibility in response to employers taking precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, it applied to employers and workplaces working exclusively remotely. This policy permits qualified employers to complete the Section 2 document review remotely. For example, employers could review the document via video calls, email, or fax within three business days of hire. Employers who inspect documents remotely must enter “COVID-19” in the additional information field in Section 2 or 3 as appropriate.
However, these flexibilities will expire for employees who no longer work remotely. For example, they end when employees undertake “non-remote employment on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier.” In such cases, employers or their authorized representatives must re-inspect these documents in person.
Employers should prepare accordingly for the upcoming termination of remote flexibilities. For example, they should begin reviewing any remotely completed Form I-9s for employees hired since March 20, 2020. As July 31 draws closer, the DHS may provide additional guidance to assist employers with this transition.
Until then, employers should keep the following in mind:
Employers often find it challenging to keep abreast of the constantly changing I-9 regulations. The best way to ensure compliance with the many changes is to incorporate an electronic I-9 completion tool into the onboarding process. This tool can provide up-to-date guidance and a suite of tools, including virtual storage and reminders on when to take action to guarantee continued compliance.
When it comes to your work, automation makes eligibility verification quick and seamless. Get a head start today with I-9 Compliance.