Filling out Form I-9 was always complicated, but the pandemic increased this complexity. Some employers are still not sure when to review documentation for Form I-9 in person. After the COVID-19 pandemic began, the president declared a state of national emergency in the country due to the pandemic. Because of the state of emergency, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced this rule:
Employers that are taking precautions that involve limiting physical proximity due to the COVID-19 pandemic are not required to look over their employees’ work authorization or identity documents in the physical presence of the employees. But, employers still need to remotely inspect these Section 2 documents. This can be by fax, video link, or email. The employers need to obtain, inspect, and retain copies of these documents, and this needs to be done within three business days as part of completing Section 2 of Form I-9. When using this remote process, employers need to enter COVID-19 for their reason in delaying the physical inspection required for the Section 2 Additional Information field when the physical inspection does take place after the resumption of normal operations. After the employer inspects the physical documents, they need to add the words “documents physically examined” with the date they inspected the documents in the additional information field in Section 2 of Form I-9 or, if appropriate, Section 3. Employers have 60 days after the date of notice or three days after the end of the national emergency, whichever occurs first, to fulfill these provisions. Suppose an employer chooses to take advantage of this COVID-19 rule. In that case, they must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and their telework policy for each of their employees.
This provision will remain in place through April 30th, but there are some things employers need to remember, such as:
Completing Form I-9 can be complicated and time-consuming. However, using an electronic I-9 management tool can make the whole process a lot easier. This software will guide your employees through the whole process and ensure they are complying with all regulations.
Learn more about automating your employment eligibility verification and ensuring compliance with I-9 Compliance.