Within months of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the DHS introduced a policy allowing employers to perform remote inspections in order to verify new employees’ documentation for completing Form I-9. This policy has been extended several times now as the challenges of the pandemic have continued, and now it has been extended once again.
Previously the remote inspection policy was set to expire on April 30th, 2022. However, in response to the continuing emergency, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is extending the policy, which will now expire on October 31st, 2022. This means that employers may continue to review eligible employees’ identity and employment authorization documents through remote means. This includes video call, email, or fax until the earlier of either the expiration of the policy or three days after the end of the COVID-19 emergency.
This policy applies to all employees hired on or after April 1st, 2021, who “work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19 related precautions.” Until the employee begins to return to in-person employment on a “regular, consistent, or reliable basis” or until the policy for flexibility ends.
Employers who choose to utilize this policy to complete the I-9 for their remote employees may inspect Section 2 documents using remote means such as video or email. Employers must then retain copies of these documents and should enter “COVID-19” as the reason for delaying physical inspection on Section 2. Notably, the ordinary deadlines still apply, which means Section 1 should be completed by a new hire’s start date, and Section 2 should be completed within 3 business days.
For employees whose documentation was reviewed using this policy for flexibility, employers must complete a physical inspection within three business days of their return to non-remote work on a “regular, consistent, or predictable basis.” Employers should then add the date of inspection and “documents physically examined” into the additional information field of Section 2 or 3 as appropriate.
Employers must also create written documentation detailing their policy for remote onboarding, which should be provided to each new hire. Learn More
ICE has recognized that some employers may not be able to physically inspect and verify employee documentation, such as in cases where the individual in question is no longer employed. In these cases, a memorandum detailing the reason why should be attached to the employee’s Form I-9 and will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by ICE.
Keeping up with the frequent changes in Employment Eligibility Verification can be challenging, particularly as the pandemic continues to force rapid changes. One of the best ways to help keep up is with an electronic I-9 management tool. This can help guide employers through the process and ensure uniform completion and storage of documentation every time.
Our I-9 Compliance tool will help quickly verify your employment eligibility automatically.