All employers are required to attest to the fact that they have verified each of their employee’s identity as well as their employment eligibility. They are required to do this in person while physically checking the employee’s documents. In the past, Form I-9 was always completed in person. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been allowing employers to verify their employees’ identities along with their eligibility documents remotely in some situations. Now, it seems the DHS is considering making this remote verification a permanent alternative to physical verification of an employee’s identity and eligibility documents.
The DHS is now asking the public to give their input on this remote review. They are also asking for input on E-Verify and the I-9 process, as well as other input that could improve DHS policies. Those who wish to comment on these issues should comment soon as the comment period ends December 27, 2021. The DHS is asking employers about the remote document procedures and their experience with remote document inspection and I-9 completion during the pandemic.
Remote Document Examination
There are a number of questions about the remote inspection of documents, and here is a summary of some of these questions.
- What burdens are there for employers and employees in complying with the requirement to physically verify the documents for Form I-9 and the use of authorized representatives to fulfill this requirement?
- What benefits and costs would there be to offering remote verification of documents for Form I-9 identity and work eligibility?
- What burdens and challenges would there be for small employers in offering a permanent remote option for remote verification of documents for Form I-9 identity and work eligibility?
- What types of alternatives should be given to small employers for adopting the remote procedures?
- What types of employers would be interested in a permanent remote option?
- If employers were required to enroll in E-Verify, had document or image quality or retention requirements, or were required to complete training offered by the DHS, would it affect their desire to utilize remote document verification?
- If remote document examination is made permanent, how should the DHS protect employees’ rights related to the examination of these documents?
- Are there ways for employers to make sure the documents they are inspecting are genuine and are for the individual stated, and how could the DHS encourage the commercial development of solutions for this problem?
- Should the DHS consider changing the list of acceptable documents in the context of remote document examination, and what would be the cost and benefits of this?
- Is there anything else the DHS should consider related to remote document verification?
Here is a summary of the questions the DHS is asking about employers’ experiences with remote document examination and completion of Form I-9 during the pandemic.
- Did you or your organization use remote document verification for Form I-9 since March 20, 2020, and why?
- If you were an employer that performed any remote document examinations during this time, what were your experiences?
- If you performed any remote document verifications, were you enrolled in E-Verify? Were any of the documents that were examined remotely and returned by E-Verify as employment authorized found later by the employer to not be genuine?
- What other changes did employers make for inspecting documents for Form I-9 during the pandemic?
- Did employers increase their use of authorized representatives during the pandemic?
To add your comment or review the full list of questions, you can do so at the Federal eRulemaking Portal (docket number USCIS-2021-0022).