DHS Issues Guidance on Form I-9 Completion Flexibility for Employers that are Operating Remotely

The full COVID-19 news release by DHS regarding flexibility in requirements related to the Form I-9 can be found here.

Virtual Verification “Now”, In-Person Verification “Later”

Applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. If there are employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being implemented at this time for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. However, if newly hired employees or existing employees are subject to COVID-19 quarantine or lockdown protocols, DHS will evaluate this on a case-by-case basis.

If an employer chooses to implement a Form I-9 remote document review policy, the employer must:

  • Provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee and maintain evidence of meeting this requirement.
  • Inform employees who elected remote onboarding and telework of the requirement that the employee return, in person, with the original documents provided during the remote document review process, no later than three days from when normal operations resume.
  • When completing Form I-9, Section 2, at the time the employer resumes normal operations and conducts a physical review of the original documents the employee provided during remote verification, the employer should enter the phrase “COVID-19” in the “Additional Information” field,” together with the notation “documents physically examined” including the date of the physical examination.
    • If either one of the documents the employee originally presented during remote verification is expired when the physical review is conducted, the employer must conduct a reverification of the employee by completing Section 3 of the Form I-9.

In-Person Verification “Now”

  • Employers may always designate an authorized representative to act on their behalf to complete Section 2
    • DHS reiterated their longstanding policy that employers may designate “any person as an authorized representative” so long as that person meets in-person with the employee, reviews their original documents, and completes and signs Section 2.
    • Employers are responsible (and liable) for any errors, omissions, or issues during the Form I-9 completion.

NOTE; Form I-9 Compliance LLC has “Remote Agent” Options Available for In-Person Verification “Now”

Employers can utilize a “Remote Agent” as their authorized representative to conduct an in-person “touch and feel” document required verification of a newly hired remote employee. Employers choosing this option can ask the employee to pick a nearby individual (perhaps a friend, neighbor, or even family member) with clear instructions on the completion processes that need to occur.  The Form I-9 Compliance LLC remote agent option is integrated with its electronic Form I-9 which guides the agent through the necessary steps and prevents errors and omissions. Employers utilizing this remote agent option eliminates the In-Person Verification “Later” follow up requirements.