DHS Allows for Remote Form I-9 Document Verification in light of Coronavirus Pandemic
In response to the coronavirus pandemic and much of the nation now working from home, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a modification to its procedures for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.
By way of background, every employer hiring a U.S. employee hired after Nov. 6, 1986, must complete and retain Form I-9. As part of this process, an employee must present original, unexpired documents to an employer within three days of hire. The employer must review this documentation and complete its section of Form I-9, ensuring that the documents are reasonably genuine and relate to the employee presenting them.
In light of the changing circumstances, DHS is vesting employers with the option to use remote verification of the employee’s document(s) for Form I-9 purposes. Employers are then instructed to write “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Section 2 Additional Information field once physical inspection takes place after normal operations resume. As per DHS, once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer is to add “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection to the Section 2 additional information field on the Form I-9, or to section 3 as appropriate
Once an employer decides to exercise this remote option, it becomes obliged to provide the written documentation of its remote onboarding and telework policy to each affected employee.
These provisions may be implemented by employers for a period of 60 days from the date of March 19, 2020, or within three business days after the termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first.
Once the precautions related to COVID-19 pandemic are lifted, all employees are required to comply with the requirements of the original procedure and their employer the original documentation within three business days for in-person eligibility verification.
DHS further states that it “will continue to monitor the ongoing National Emergency and provide updated guidance as needed. Employers are required to monitor the DHS and ICE websites for additional updates regarding when the extensions will be terminated, and normal operations will resume.”
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