The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced an extension of flexibility in complying with the Form I-9 requirements. This was originally extended on March 19, 2020, due to the COVID-19 national emergency. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has decided to extend this policy once again for an additional period of 30 days.
The DHS temporarily halted the requirement that employers physically review employee identification and employment authorization documents when completing Form I-9. The revised policy appears in detail in our March 22, 2020, blog post, “Form I-9 Coronavirus (COVID-19) Alert: USCIS Announces Temporary Modifications to Employment Eligibility Verification Process and E-Verify Program.”
Form I-9 Compliance Flexibility for Employers
The DHS, using its prosecutorial discretion, announced this policy as a precautionary measure implemented by the employers and employees due to COVID-19. This provision applies only to employers who are operating remotely. Employers who are eligible to verify remotely and elect to do so will be able to inspect Section 2 documents remotely by video, fax, or email, and must retain copies of the documents. The timeline for Form I-9 completion remains in effect. Section 1 of the I-9 must be completed by the employee’s start date and Section 2 must be completed within the business days of the start date.
It should be noted that the DHS’s remote verification policies are not mandatory. Employers can choose to follow the standard Form I-9 procedures, including the use of hired agents to complete the verification.
Further, United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that there is a final 30-day extension for employers’ Notices of Inspection (NOIs). ICE also announced that after July 19, 2020, no additional extensions will be granted to employers served with an NOI. These employers have already received a 60-day extension from the original order. The DHS will continue to monitor the ongoing national emergency and issue timely guidelines.
Post-COVID-19 National Emergency
After the national emergency is lifted, employers will have to physically inspect documents within three business days for all employees on board and those who have been verified remotely. Under the “Additional Information” field in Section 2, employees must enter “COVID-19” as the reason for physical inspection. Once the physical inspections are complete, the employer should add “documents physically examined” and the date of inspection in the “Additional Information” field in Section 2.
To learn more about this blog post or if you have any other immigration concerns, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or (484) 544-0022. For other topics related to COVID-19, visit our Coronavirus Thought Leadership Connection.
The information contained in this post may not reflect the most current developments, as the subject matter is extremely fluid and constantly changing. Please continue to monitor this site for ongoing developments. Readers are also cautioned against taking any action based on information contained herein without first seeking advice from professional legal counsel.