The Department of Homeland Security(DHS) first allowed remote flexibilities on November 1, 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, they have repeatedly extended these flexibilities, which will end on July 31, 2023. However, the DHS did request public comment for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. This request concerns potential new policies for completing the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9), including permanent virtual document review options.
The option to participate in a training program for fraudulent document detection and anti-discrimination also came up. Participation in this training would allow companies enrolled in E-Verify to use a remote verification process. Currently, no permanent virtual document review is available.
Businesses that resume normal operations must ensure that the employees onboarded using remote verification report to their employer within three business days. This expectation allows the employer to verify their employment eligibility and identity documents for Form I-9.
Furthermore, the DHS announced it would allow no exceptions to the policies for remote verification with employees physically present at work locations. However, the DHS has made an exception for employees subjected to COVID-19 quarantine or lockdown protocols. As such, the DHS would consider remote verification on a case-by-case basis.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recommends preparing for the end of increased flexibility. However, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) stressed that remote verification is only for employers whose entire workforce operates remotely. As such, employers must verify any employees who return to the workplace.
HSI also expects companies to have enough Human Resource employees to sufficiently onboard hires through the required in-person process within three days for verification. This expectation includes completing the in-person verification of employees onboarded during the virtual I-9 COVID exception. In addition, employers can utilize authorized representatives to assist with the onboarding.
Should leadership declare the end of the temporary flexibilities, the HIS will require employers to verify all of their employees within three days. In light of this, HIS will work with USCIS to clarify any expectations.
The regulations for Form I-9 change frequently, and it can prove challenging to keep up with them. The easiest way to stay updated and ensure compliance with these regulations is by investing in an I-9 management system. This system confirms accurate and completed Form I-9 paperwork, offering guidance as needed. In addition, it provides secure storage for all forms and related documentation.
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