As the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are all trying to find some sense of normality in our day-to-day lives. Most, if not all, employers nationwide have experienced the pandemic’s impacts in some way. With the development of these impacts come accommodations.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced flexibility in requirements related to Employment Verification (Form I-9) as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Across the nation employers and employees are implementing workplace changes to work remotely in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus. To support this effort, DHS is allowing employers to temporarily accept Form I-9 documentation through digital means.
Employers may inspect Section 2 documents of Form I-9 remotely via video link, fax, email, or other similar methods. They may obtain, inspect, and retain copies of documents (rather than originals) until normal business operations resume. This regulation change remains in effect for 60 day (until May 18, 2020) or within three business days of ending the National Emergency. Whichever event comes first will apply. However, the government may announce an extended time frame depending on future development.
Upon resuming normal operations, employers must perform physical inspection of previously uninspected documents. Additionally, employers must add a note stating “documents physically examined” along with the date of inspection.
Be that as it may, it’s crucial to note that this temporary regulation change comes with eligibility requirements. Form I-9 flexibility is available only to employers and workplaces operating remotely. On a case by case basis, this may also apply to:
- HR if they’re remote or inaccessible to employees
- Physical proximity restrictions
- New hires or existing employees are subject to quarantine or lockdown
Employers can designate an authorized representative to act on their behalf to complete Section 2 requirements. An authorized representative can be any person appointed by the employer. However, the employer is liable for any and all violations made in connection with the form. DHS also emphasizes that remote employers must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee.
Additional Information & Resources
I-9 Advantage is currently in the process of updating the I-9 system in order to adjust to the temporary changes. Questions or concerns can be directed to the I-9 Advantage support team at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found here.
To read the official announcement from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, click here.
We will continue to share updates as the situation and changes continue to develop.