Since March 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has given employers flexibility when completing I9 forms for employees that are working remotely because of COVID-19 safety precautions. The physical presence requirements associated with the Form I9 (it is required to physically review the original employee identity and employment authorization documents) were relaxed to accommodate employers that were not physically meeting with new hires due to COVID-19. Employers were allowed to inspect the Section 2 documents remotely (such as video call, fax and emailed copies) within 3 business days and retain the copies of the documents. Employers were advised to enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in Section 2 “Additional Information” field. Starting April 1, 2021, the requirement to physically inspect employee’s documents to complete the I9 Form only applies to those employees who physically report to work at a company location on any regular, consistent and predictable basis. Read March 31, 2021 update.
If employees hired on or after April 1, 2021, work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions, they are temporarily exempt from the physical inspection requirements associated with the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) until they undertake non-remote employment on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier.
How to fix I9s for remote employees? In person review of identity and employment authorization documents that was postponed for remote employees must be corrected, once onsite operations restart, or the DHS flexibility policy ends. Follow these 3 steps:
- Once normal operations resume, all employees who were onboarded using remote verification must report to their employer within three business days for in-person verification.
- Maintain written documentation of the company remote onboarding and telework policy, and keep a copy with the I9s.
- Once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer should add “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection to the Section 2 additional information field on the Form I-9.
Possible Solution for Remote Employees: Employers may designate an authorized representative to act on their behalf to complete Section 2 (and have in person review of the I9 documents). An authorized representative can be any person the employer designates to complete and sign Form I-9 on their behalf. An employer is still responsible for violations connected to the actions of its authorized representative.