Form I-9 In-Person Verification Deferred During COVID-19 Crisis

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In light of the unusual state of current affairs employers are facing due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced it will exercise discretion to defer the “in-person” requirements associated with Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9).

These changes address the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requirement mandating that employers review original employment eligibility verification documentation in the presence of the employee within three days of hiring any worker.

In the March 20 announcement, the DHS stated the following: “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.”

Remote Verification of Documents

Despite the deferment of the physical presence requirement, employers are still responsible for checking/verifying the authorization documents. Employers are required to inspect the Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax, or e-mail, etc.) and obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents, within 3 business days for purposes of completing Section 2 of Form I-9.

Other Required Procedures

Employers have other I-9 procedural requirements based on the DHS guidance, as follows:

  • Once normal operations resume, all employees who completed the Form I-9 using remote verification must report to their employer within 3 business days for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation.
  • Employers should enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Section 2 “Additional Information” field, once physical inspection takes place.
  • After 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 applicable, for reverifications).
  • Timeframe: the above provisions may be implemented by employers for a period of 60 days from the date of the DHS notice (March 20) OR within 3 business days after the termination of the national emergency, whichever comes first.

Employers who use this option must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee. The burden to provide this notice rests solely with the employers. Read more here…

Source: HR Daily Advisor

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