Form I-9, which employers are required to complete to verify the identity and employment authorization of their employees, has been revised and updated by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The updated form is supposed to be out by October 31.
This will be good for employers as it includes a number of changes intended to help them. However, unfortunately for a number of employers, there has not been a change to remove the requirement to physically inspect I-9 documents and allow the remote verification of I-9 documents to be permanent. This means that when the current extension allowing for the remote inspection of I-9 documents ends, employers will need to physically inspect any documents that were previously remotely verified within three business days by the employer or their designee.
Although the updated Form I-9 does not include the permanent ability to remotely verify I-9 documents, this may still happen in the future. The USCIS did request employer feedback on remote verification. Additionally, when the Department of Homeland Security requested public input on remote verification of documents, it stated that it wanted to better understand the potential costs and benefits of allowing this flexibility.
The government does need to consider a number of factors when making this decision. The United States Department of Justice’s Immigrant and Employee Rights Section has concerns about the possibility of discrimination based on national origin or citizenship status when completing Form I-9 or using the E-Verify system. This type of discrimination can happen when an employer asks for either specific documents or additional documents when completing Form I-9.
In contrast, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement are concerned about workers presenting counterfeit immigration documents as well as how easy it is for workers to succeed at lying during the virtual verification process. Whereas the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) wants to ensure employer compliance and that Form I-9 is functional and useful along with other things.
The notice by the federal register contained questions that seemed to suggest that employers may eventually be allowed to opt-in to remote verification and allow them to decide whether they should fulfill any additional requirements.
It won’t be easy to come up with a policy that satisfies everyone involved, but hopefully, the USCIS will come up with a policy that will work before the current extension ends.
Remaining compliant with Form I-9 requirements can be a challenge for many employers who must keep up with the ever-shifting federal requirements. The best way to ensure your business keeps abreast of the regulations is to invest in an electronic I-9 management tool that can guide personnel through every step of the verification process and ensure documentation and paperwork are stored appropriately.
Ensure compliance today by switching to an electronic I-9 management tool with compliance expert today for more information.