Since many companies and organizations are working remotely due to COVID-19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced flexibility regarding Employment Verification (Form I-9) regulations. "Employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 will not be required to review the employee's identity and employment authorization documents in the employee's physical presence," DHS said.
Employers can obtain, inspect and retain copies of Section 2 documents remotely – for example, over video link, fax or email, etc. – until the resumption of normal business. This policy will remain in effect until May 18, 2020 or until three business days after termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first. However, this can be extended by the government in a future announcement.
Who is Involved:
- Employers and workplaces operating remotely.
- HR departments that are remote or inaccessible to employees. This option may be available on a case-by-case basis where physical proximity restrictions apply, or newly hired employees or existing employees are subject to quarantine or lockdowns.
- Authorized representatives acting on behalf of employers to complete Section 2. Employers still remain liable for any violations committed by its authorized representative.
- Employers must conduct the remote inspections within three business days of the start date and retain all documentation.
- Employers should enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the “Section 2 Additional Information” field.
- Employers using E-Verify should submit cases within three business days of the remote inspection.
- Once normal business operations resume, employees onboarded remotely must report within three business days for in-person verification.
- Once documents have been physically inspected, employer should add “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection to the “Section 2 additional information” field (or to Section 3 as appropriate). If the original certifier is not available for the physical re-examination, a new Section 2 should be completed and signed by the employer.
- Employers using the remote option must provide written documentation of the onboarding and telework policy for each employee. The employer must document that the remote option was necessary.
- Employees will have a choice as to documentation presented under List A, B and C for the in-person re-verification—it can be different from the virtually-provided documentation.
- Employees with documentation that expires prior to the physical re-examination will need to provide unexpired documentation which would be re-verified in Section 3.
Source: Ice.gov - DHS announces flexibility in requirements related to Form I-9 compliance