Form I-9 Compliance Goes Virtual

Apr 1, 2020

By Aviva Kamm | Related Practice: Employment

Update May 19, 2020: ICE has extended the deadline to permit remote inspection of I-9 documents by 30 days, to June 18, 2020. Remote inspection is only available for employers and employees who are working entirely remotely, and the documents must be viewed in person within three days of the employee returning to the physical workplace or the expiration of the deadline, now set to expire June 18.

One of the most basic steps of hiring a new employee is confirming the employee’s eligibility to work in the United States by completing a Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) and inspecting the documents that prove identity and authorization to work legally.

File folder labeled Employment

So how is a company to comply with these requirements when its workforce, including Human Resources staff, are working remotely?

The Department of Homeland Security has announced temporary deferment of the Form I-9 requirement to personally inspect documents. The temporary deferment will last until the earlier of (a) the termination of the national emergency; or (b) 60 days from the date of the announcement, which is May 19, 2020.

Employers whose employees are working remotely must:

  • provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee affected;
  • inspect Form I-9 Section 2 documents remotely (such as by video link, fax or email, etc.); and
  • obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents within three business days of hire.

After normal operations resume or after the expiration of the deferment, employers must:

  • physically examine documents for each Form I-9 for each remote verification;
  • enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Section 2 additional information field on the Form I-9; and
  • 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.

DHS’s complete news release on this subject is available here.