Employers use Form I-9 to verify the identity of the employees they hire and ensure they are authorized to work in the United States. All employers must make sure that each of their employees completes the I-9 properly when they are hired. This has been difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic when many employees are working remotely, and it can be difficult to be sure that the employees are completing the I-9 correctly. But, we are going to discuss some things you should remember when having are going to your remote workers fill out Form I-9. Form I-9 has several sections, so let’s take a look at each of them.
The new employee needs to complete this section and attest to the fact that they are authorized to work in the United States. This section needs to be completed on the first day that the new employee is working for pay.
For Section 2, the employee needs to show the required work authorization and identity documents. Then the employer needs to examine these documents to see if they appear authentic and that they belong to the employee. After this, the employer needs to write the document numbers in Section 2. This section needs to be completed within three business days.
Section 3 must be filled out when an employee’s authorization to work expires. For this section, the employee provides new or updated documents to their employer. Then the employer needs to examine the documents and write the document numbers in Section 3. This section must be filled out on or before the date the work authorization expires.
This section includes three lists of the documents. An employee may use one document from List A or one document each from both list B and list C.
Section 2 of the I-9 form requires employers to inspect the documents an employee is using in the employee’s presence or have an authorized agent that is acceptable in the employer’s state to inspect the documents for the employer. Until the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) enacted temporary exceptions due to COVID-19, it was not permissible to inspect the documents remotely. Under this exception, employers may inspect I-9 documents remotely if their workplace is operating remotely.
When the workplace resumes normal operations, the remote employees have three business days to report to their employer to have their I-9 documents physically inspected. At this point, the employer must write that the documents have been physically inspected along with the date in Section 2 or Section 3 of Form I-9 in the additional information field, depending on which section is applicable.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering making remote document inspection permanent. Currently, the agency is asking for public input while trying to find a way to inspect documents remotely that provides sufficient security and effectiveness. If the DHS does decide to make remote inspection permanent, employers may not need to worry about physically inspecting documents if and when employees return to the office.
Whether employees work from the office or remotely, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that every new hire has a correctly filed Form I-9. This can be a challenge, but the best way to ensure that it is done correctly every time is with an electronic I-9 management tool. This can provide paperless signing and help manage and store all of your employees’ I-9s securely for review whenever they are needed.