Effective March 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced temporary regulations allowing employers operating in an entirely remote work environment due to COVID-19 to verify their new hires’ Form I-9 documents remotely as well. These regulations specify that employers are still responsible for physically verifying I-9 documents in-person when operations return to normal and include instructions for documenting this physical verification on the Form I-9. Initially, the temporary regulations were set to expire after 60 days on May 20, 2020, but they have been extended multiple times as the COVID-19 pandemic has stretched on into the summer months.
Based on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the DHS has once again decided to extend the temporary regulations allowing employers to virtually inspect I-9 documents as described above. These temporary regulations will now remain in effect until August 19, 2020. As before, the following conditions apply:
- Virtual or remote inspection of I-9 documents is only permitted for employers whose employees are remote due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Employers whose employees are physically present at the work site must physically inspect these employees’ documents as usual.
- Within three days of returning to the work site, all employees whose I-9 documents were inspected virtually must present the same documents for physical inspection.
- At this time, the employer should use the additional information section on the Form I-9 to write “COVID-19” as the reason for the delay in physical inspection along with the inspection date and initials of the inspector. If the inspector is not the same person who examined the documents virtually, they should include their full name and title in this section instead of just initialing.
Finally, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced that after July 19, 2020, no more extensions will be granted to employers who were served notices of inspection, or NOIs, in March 2020.
Employers Next Steps
- Make your Human Resources team and all hiring managers aware of this extension.
- Continue tracking all employees whose I-9 documents are verified virtually so that you can physically inspect their documents when operations return to normal.
- Consider scheduling an I-9 audit through HR Knowledge or complete one internally after reverting to normal processes to ensure that all your Form I-9s have been updated correctly.
- If you are a Full-Service or Virtual HR client and have questions about how you can remain in compliance while working in a remote environment, please email us.
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This content is provided with the understanding that HR Knowledge is not rendering legal advice. While every effort is made to provide current information, the law changes regularly and laws may vary depending on the state or municipality. The material is made available for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal advice or your professional judgment. You should review applicable laws in your jurisdiction and consult experienced counsel for legal advice. If you have any questions regarding this content, please contact HR Knowledge at 508.339.1300 or email us.