ICE Proposes New Path to A Permanent Virtual Form I-9 Document Review Process


In light of a newly proposed rule issued on August 18th by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a permanent alternative to physical examinations of employment authorization documentation (Form I-9) may become available. In addition, this proposed rule may introduce an option for remote documentation review.

According to ICE, the COVID-19 pandemic brought on several advances in technology and work arrangements. As a result, the agency intends to explore alternative options for the employment eligibility verification process. Alternative options include making certain flexibilities for examining identity and work authorization documents permanent.

As most employers are likely aware, early in the pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security introduced new flexibilities for employers taking steps to protect their personnel. One such flexibility included allowing employees to work from home. Another of these flexibilities permitted employers with personnel working remotely to inspect a new hire’s identity and Form I-9s remotely. These methods included video conferencing, email, or fax. Widely popular, the Department plans to continue extending this remote verification process, otherwise set to end in October.

The agency has cautioned that this newly proposed rule will not introduce any new flexibilities. However, it will give the agency the authority to begin the process. This rule allows it to extend existing flexibilities, start new pilot programs to test possible routes, and potentially provide alternatives. However, to create an entirely new procedure, such as permanently enabling employers to review documents remotely, it would need to propose another rule.

Currently, ICE is continuing to request input from stakeholders on ways to improve the Form I-9 process. Requested input includes reducing fraud and discrimination and protecting employee privacy, which is a significant concern when conducting an electronic document review. The agency also weighs different methods of retaining documents when remotely completing the verification process. Training requirements for fraud detection and discrimination for employers are also under consideration.

Many employers are continuing to request a permanent remote verification option. Though this proposed rule does not necessarily mean the agency will introduce such an alternative, it does show that it is considering the feasibility of such a change. In the meantime, however, employers can make their employment eligibility verification process much simpler by using an electronic I-9 management tool. This tool can guide personnel through every step of the process and simplify the secure storage of forms and documentation.

When it comes to your employees, automation makes eligibility verification quick and simple. Ensure compliance today with I-9 Compliance.