Permanent I-9 Remote Review Unlikely Before Temporary Policy Ends

Permanent I-9 Remote Review Unlikely Before Temporary Policy Ends
July 11, 2023

The temporary remote flexibilities for verifying employment eligibility (Form I-9) will soon expire. As such, employers have looked to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for their plans to create a permanent remote procedure. These companies hope a permanent solution would relieve the challenges of physically reviewing workers’ documentation. However, this change may not occur before the temporary remote permissions expire.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency initially scheduled to release the final rule in May. This rule would have revised the Form I-9 regulations, allowing the Secretary to authorize alternative verification procedures under certain circumstances. However, the scheduled publication has changed to August.

Previously, the DHS published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that received significant public comment. This proposed rule would have permitted the DHS secretary to create alternatives to the document inspection procedures. However, it would have required the following:

  • It is part of a pilot program;
  • Upon determination by the Secretary that it offers an equivalent level of security to current methods; or
  • If the measure is a temporary response to address a public health emergency.

Depending on the situation, the rule could have become temporary or permanent. Another factor considered whether it would apply to all employers, depending on circumstances. Public comment for this proposed rule ended on October 17, 2022. Based on the comments it received, it remains uncertain how many changes the DHS may have implemented in the final regulation.

Despite this uncertainty, many employers hope for a permanent alternative to reviewing Form I-9s in person. The DHS introduced temporary flexibility for reviewing I-9 documentation on March 20, 2020, due to COVID-19. Many employers have utilized this flexibility since, with remote work prevalent, a physical review has become challenging.

However, this temporary policy is coming to a close on July 31, 2023; from then on, physical verification will be the only option. Furthermore, the DHS announced that employers have until August to comply. In this case, employers must physically verify the I-9 documents completed under this flexibility.

A permanent, remote alternative has proven unlikely before the expiration date. As such, employers should review their Form I-9 policies and prepare for in-person inspections. One way to prepare is by integrating an electronic I-9 management tool into the hiring process. It can guide personnel through the verification process and simplify management through electronic storage for forms and documentation.

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