In early May, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the end of COVID-19 temporary flexibilities for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, will end on July 31, 2023. U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) recently announced that employers must complete in-person physical document inspections for employees whose documents were inspected remotely during the temporary flexibilities by August 30, 2023.
This new announcement gives employers additional time to complete in-person physical inspection of identity and employment authorization documents, and annotate the Form I-9 for this population. These flexibilities were initially announced in March 2020 and updated in March 2021. See I-9 Central Questions and Answers for more information from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Here is an excellent Q&A response on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.
Can you provide an overview of changes to Form I-9 requirements due to COVID-19 and also explain what is staying the same?
Yes, here is an overview:
- The employee completes Section 1 no later than the first day of employment.
There is no change to current requirements for completing Section 1.
- The employer completes Section 2 within three business days of their employee’s first day of employment.
There is no change to current requirements for completing Section 2 for employees who are physically present at a company location.
Employers and workplaces that are operating remotely may follow the DHS news release that announced flexibility in requirements related to Form I-9.
If employers are performing inspections remotely (e.g., over video link, fax or email, etc.), they must obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the Section 2 documents within three business day of hire. In the Additional Information field, employers should indicate “documents physically examined” and the date of inspection. A physical inspection must take place within 30 days after the flexibilities end on July 31, 2023. Employers should enter “COVID-19,” the date of the physical inspection, and who conducted it in the Additional Information field. For more information, please see Form I-9 mockups for visual examples of how remote and physical inspection should be notated.
As a reminder, the employer may designate an authorized representative to complete Section 2 or 3 of Form I-9 on behalf of the company, including personnel officers, foremen, agents or notary public. The Department of Homeland Security does not require the authorized representative to have specific agreements or other documentation for Form I-9 purposes. If an authorized representative completes Form I-9 on behalf of the employer, the employer is still liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process.
- The employer physically examines their employee’s documents with their employee present.
DHS has announced changes to these procedures in certain circumstances; see the news release that announced flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9.
- The employer completes Section 3, Reverification.
DHS has announced changes to these procedures; the ability to inspect documents remotely for some employers applies to reverification as well. See the March 20 news release for details on remote inspection.
If you are updating Section 3, write “COVID-19” in the margin or annotate in the additional information field.
There is no change to current requirements for employees physically present at a work location.
NOTE: If you previously wrote “COVID-19 EXT” in the margin or in the Additional Information field on a Form I-9 when completing Section 3, you do not need to correct this notation.
The I-9 Form is a federal document that all employers are required to complete for each new employee. The form is used to verify the identity and employment authorization of all new employees.
In recent years, there have been several changes to the I-9 verification process. Some of the most notable changes include:
- The introduction of E-Verify, a government-sponsored online system that allows employers to verify the employment authorization of new employees.
- The expansion of the list of acceptable documents that employees can present to verify their identity and employment authorization.
- The implementation of new penalties for employers who fail to properly complete the I-9 Form.
These changes have made the I-9 verification process more complex and challenging for employers. However, the changes have also made the process more effective in preventing unauthorized employment.
Here are some tips for employers when completing the I-9 Form:
- Become familiar with the latest changes to the I-9 Form.
- Train your employees on how to complete the I-9 Form.
- Use E-Verify to verify the employment authorization of new employees.
- Keep accurate records of the I-9 Forms that you have completed.
By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your company follows the I-9 verification requirements.
Reference Services, Inc partners with Form I9 Compliance to provide integrated access to I9 forms and E Verify services. To learn more, contact firstname.lastname@example.org