Employers have had the benefit of two years of I-9 compliance flexibility. And that’s not changing anytime soon. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the updated flexibilities until October 31, 2022.
In March 2020, DHS temporarily deferred the physical presence requirements of the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9). This policy only applied to employers and workplaces that were operating remotely. It has not applied to employers who have employees physically present at a work location.
The I-9 compliance flexibility permits employers to inspect their employees’ documents through video, fax, or email rather than just in person. Employers are still required to obtain, check, and retain copies of the documents within three business days.
Employers that take advantage of the I-9 compliance flexibility should take note that when normal operations resume, employees onboarded using the remote inspection option must report to the employer within three business days so that their documents can be inspected and verified in person. Employers that use this flexibility must also provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policies for each employee.
The I-9 compliance flexibility was intended to be a temporary policy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The last extension of I-9 compliance flexibility was set to expire on May 1, 2022. Due to the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, DHS announced another extension.
Even though compliance flexibility is ongoing, the announcement notes that,
“Employers are encouraged to begin, at their discretion, the in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for employees who were hired on or after March 20, 2020, and who presented such documents for remote inspection in reliance on the flexibilities first announced in March 2020.”
Employers may want to continue to monitor updates from DHS on the I-9 Central.