The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued an announcement on March 19 that it was temporarily deferring the requirement to physically inspect work authorization documents when an employer completes the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form for new employees.
The announcement applies to any employer that is following current public health guidelines for social distancing. The deferral suspends the requirement that an employer review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence as long as the employer is taking precautionary measures related to the outbreak.
The employer must still inspect the Section 2 work authorization documents, but this can be done remotely. The announcement by DHS provides video conference, fax and email as examples of ways to inspect the Section 2 documents remotely while social distancing measures are in effect. Employers should retain copies of the documents, as well.
Additional guidelines include:
After normal operations resume, all employees who were onboarded using the remote I-9 inspection procedures need to report to the employer within three (3) working days.
Section 2: Indicate “COVID-19” as the reason for physical inspection in the “Additional Information” field
Section 2 or Section 3, as appropriate: Write “Documents physically examined on [DATE].” This should be written in the “Additional Information” field of the appropriate section.
In addition to the temporary suspension of physical inspection requirements announced on March 19, employers continue to have the option of designating an “authorized representative” to physically inspect the Section 2 documents for I-9 verification.
Detailed instructions when authorizing representatives:
Health guidance for authorized representatives:
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