Editor's note: This article has been updated to note the extension of the flexible provisions announced on January 27, 2021.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced another extension relaxing the requirements to review Form I-9 documentation in the employee’s physical presence if normal operations are being performed remotely because of COVID-19.
An employer is normally required to review identity and employment authorization documents in the physical presence of an employee within three business days of the employee starting work. DHS is waiving this requirement by allowing employers to obtain and review the documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax, or email) when precautions due to COVID-19 are in place.
The flexible requirements allow employees to complete Section 1 of Form I-9 and submit the form along with the required documentation to their employer within three days. Once normal operations resume, the employer must physically inspect the original documents and complete Section 2.
Employers may use the flexible provisions until March 31, 2021, or within three business days after the termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first. Due to the continued precautions related to COVID-19, DHS has granted an additional extension to this policy for employers and workplaces that are operating remotely.
Employers exercising this option must:
- Provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee
- Require employees onboarded using remote verification to report to the employer for in-person verification within three days after normal operations resume
- Upon physical inspection, complete Form I-9 Section 2 and enter COVID-19 in the additional information field as the reason for the physical inspection delay, or to section 3 as appropriate
- Add “documents physically examined” with the date of the physical inspection to the Section 2 additional information field of Form I-9, or to section 3 as appropriate
For more information on the DHS flexible requirements, check out the latest news release in the ICE Newsroom.
April Mabry is an assistant director at TASB HR Services. Send April an email at email@example.com.
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