Form I-9 Document Inspection Flexibility Due to COVID-19 Extended Again

On March 20, 2020, in response to the challenges faced by employers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), announced temporary flexibility in the requirements for completing Form I-9, while employers were operating remotely.

Employers whose workforce was operating remotely could inspect the Section 2 identity and employment eligibility documentation remotely — via video link, fax or email, within three business days of hire, and the employer was required to retain copies of these documents. This provision only applied to employers and workplaces that were operating remotely — no exceptions were made if employees were physically present at a work location.

Once normal business operations resumed, employees whose documents underwent remote verification had to report to their employer within three business days for official in-person document verification. After employers physically inspected the documents, they would enter “COVID-19” in the Section 2 “Additional Information” field as the reason for the physical inspection delay. Employers should also have stated “documents physically examined” followed by the date of inspection in either Section 2 or section 3, as appropriate. For examples on how to complete this go to: https://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/form-i-9-examples-related-to-temporary-covid-19-policies

DHS has extended this temporary flexibility multiple times, on May 14; June 16, July 18, August 19, and now the expiration date for these accommodations has been extended to September 19, 2020. These accommodations are expected to remain in place through the extended date or until three days after the national emergency is over, whichever comes first. Further extensions are possible depending on the COVID-19 emergency. Additionally, if employers qualified for and opted to use this remote inspection provision, they were required “to provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy to each employee.”

Additionally, employers are reminded that there is a new I-9 form that was required to be used for new hires after April 30, 2020. On May 1, 2020, all employers are required to use the new form with the 10/21/19 version date that expires 10/31/2022

Employers should continue to monitor the DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) websites for additional updates.



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