Department of Homeland Security Announces Flexibility in the I-9 Review Process

On March 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that “due to precautions being implemented by employers and employees related to physical proximity associated with COVID-19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) … will exercise discretion to defer the physical presence requirements associated with Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9)”.

Employers who have employees starting work and who are working remotely may inspect the section 2 documents remotely. Examples of means of remote inspection are via video, email, fax, etc. Employers also should enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Section 2 Additional Information field after normal operations resume.

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.

Employers that use this option must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee. Once normal operations resume, all employees who were onboarded using remote 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.

It is important to note that this is not a relaxation in the rule that requires verification within three days of an employee’s start date, just that employers will not be required to take the document from the employee physically. Employers can use this exception for 60 days from the date of the notice, which was March 20, 2020, or within three days of the end of the National Emergency, whichever comes first. Please contact Employers Council with questions.