The Department of Homeland Security announced today that employers and workplaces that are continuing to operate remotely will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence through December 31, 2021. As a reminder, this policy only applies to employers that are operating completely remotely. If there are any employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being implemented at this time for in-person verification for Form I-9.
In addition, employees hired on or after April 1, 2021, and working exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions are temporarily exempt from the I-9 physical inspection requirements until they undertake non-remote employment on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier.
If still operating remotely, employers must inspect the Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax or email, etc.) and obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents, within three business days for purposes of completing Section 2. The employer should write “Remote inspection completed on XX/XX/XXXX” in the Section 2 Additional Information box or Section 3 for reverifications once the remote inspection is completed.
Once normal operations resume, all employees who were onboarded using remote or virtual verification must report to their employer within three business days for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Employers should enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Section 2 Additional Information box. Once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer should 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.
Eventually the I-9 flexibilities will come to an end, and HR Managers must begin to prepare for conducting the physical in-person inspections of all the I-9’s that were previously completed using the virtual verification method. Although the flexible policy remains in effect until December 31, 2021, if your company has hired many workers throughout the time allowing flexibility, you must plan as to how you will arrange and complete physical inspection within 3 days of normal operations resuming.
If you have any questions regarding this process or are in need of guidance in how to best comply with the I-9 requirements, you can set up a consultation with any of our Reddy & Neumann, P.C. attorneys.