Update: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it will extend temporary Form I-9 flexible measures through October 2022 due to COVID-19.
The temporary measures were introduced in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began. They were set to expire on April 30, 2022, but they have been further extended through Oct. 31, 2022. DHS has not yet announced if the flexible measures will remain in place after October 2022.
Although the measures have been extended, their provisions remain unchanged. Employers that are operating fully remotely due to COVID-19 are permitted to virtually verify employee documents for the purpose of Form I-9 employment eligibility verification. Employers that use virtual methods for employment eligibility verification must comply with certain guidelines when regular operations resume, including physically inspecting documents that were originally viewed remotely. The physical inspection must be completed within three days of resuming normal operations.
The guidance applies to employees who were hired on or after April 1, 2021, and who are working exclusively in a remote environment due to COVID-19.
Initially granted in March 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has provided guidelines for I-9 verification that relax in-person requirements and allow for remote I-9 verification. DHS has since announced several extensions to these requirements. The latest extension of the flexible measures, set to expire on Dec. 31, 2021, will remain in place through April 30, 2022.
Who does this impact?
This policy only applies to employers with employees who were hired on or after April 1, 2021, and who are working remotely due to COVID-19. These employers will not be required to inspect the identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence until after the COVID-19 emergency concludes, so long as the company provides written documentation of remote onboarding on the Form I-9. These employers must inspect the Section 2 documents remotely, i.e. over video, email, fax, etc. The original timelines for completion of I-9 verification remain in effect.
If an employee is physically attending work at a company work location, these flexibilities do not apply and the employer must verify the employee’s documents in person within the usual required timeframes.
How long will this policy remain in effect?
The current extension of flexibility for I-9 verification requirements is set to expire on April 30, 2022. Since many companies plan to continue remote operations for the foreseeable future, these I-9 flexibilities may be extended once again.
Once the COVID-19 emergency concludes, physical inspection of documents for employees who were originally I-9 verified remotely will be required. Once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer must add "documents physically examined" with the date of inspection to the Section 2 additional information field on the Form I-9.
Additional updates from DHS regarding I-9 flexibility will be announced as available. If you have questions regarding the flexibility of I-9 verification requirements, please contact your attorney for further guidance.
Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Ian Love and Amanda Bolhuis, who are Partners at Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (www.giafirm.com), one of the two U.S. law firms Envoy exclusively works with on the Envoy Platform (the "U.S. Law Firms").
Content in this publication is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. Envoy is not a law firm, and does not provide legal advice. If you would like guidance on how this information may impact your particular situation and you are a client of one of the U.S. Law Firms, consult your attorney. If you are not a client of a U.S. Law Firm working with Envoy, consult another qualified professional. This website does not create an attorney-client relationship with either U.S. Law Firm.