I-9 compliance has looked different for some employers since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Department of Human Services (DHS) has offered continued I-9 flexibility to employers. On August 31, 2021, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that the flexibility will continue through the end of the year.
I-9 compliance flexibility will remain in place for employers with remote-only staff. According to ICE, employers may use flexible rules for employees hired on or after April 1, 2021. This policy applies to staff that works “exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions.”
The extended policy expires on December 31, 2021. DHS states that it will continue to monitor the ongoing national emergency and provide guidance as needed. Employers are required to monitor DHS and ICE websites for additional updates on when extensions will be terminated, and normal operations will resume.
A Quick Review
While you may be familiar with this ongoing I-9 compliance flexibility, here’s a recap of the policy:
- The flexibility refers to the physical inspection of an employee’s identity and employment authorization documents. Eligible employers can inspect their employee’s documents through methods like video, fax or email first. Employers must still obtain, inspect and retain copies of the documents within three business days. I-9 compliance flexibility is available for employers and workplaces that have employees working remotely and only for the employees working remotely. If employees are working on-site, no exceptions apply.
- Once normal operations resume, employees onboarded using remote verification must report to the employer within three business days to verify the employee’s identity and employment eligibility documentation in-person. Employers that utilize the remote inspection option must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policies for each employee.
- DHS has listed specific language for what should be included on the I-9 form when in-person physical inspection of documents has been delayed. Employers that take advantage of the I-9 compliance flexibility may want to review the DHS announcement carefully to ensure that their I-9 forms continue to meet DHS requirements.
For up-to-date details on I-9 compliance flexibility, check out I-9 Central.