On August 31, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced another extension of a temporary policy allowing employers to inspect Form I-9 documents virtually. The temporary rule was set to expire August 31, 2021, but DHS extended the temporary rule through December 31, 2021, due to continued COVID-19 related precautions.
Under the temporary rule, employees hired on or after April 1, 2021, who work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19 related precautions, are temporarily exempt from the physical inspection requirements for Form I-9. The temporary rule lasts until the employee undertakes non-remote work regularly, consistently, or predictably. The temporary rule also ends when DHS terminates the rule. After termination of the rule or the employee undertakes non-remote work, employers have three business days to conduct in-person verification of the virtually inspected documents.
Employers will likely experience a rush to get the in-person verification done within three business days, but you can start the process early. Employers can have an agent do in-person verification for the remote employee. Agents may include notaries, public accountants, bank officers, attorneys, etc.
Employers should keep track of all employees onboarded using virtual verification and note when the employee will return to non-remote work on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, and the employer should note the deadline for in-person verification. Call Employers Council with questions; we can help.