The Department of Homeland Security has temporarily relaxed the standard protocol for in-person verification of Form I-9 Section 2 documentation process earlier this year due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
What does this mean?
In March of 2020, the Department of Homeland Security relaxed the requirements regarding the Form I-9 as it relates to viewing of Section 2 documentation. Employers with employees taking proximity protections are not required to review an employees Section 2 identity and work authorization documents in person, and instead requires employers to inspect the documentation remotely (using a video call, email, fax etc.). For any Form I-9 completed using this measure, the employer is required to record “COVID-19” in the Additional Information box within Section 2 as a reason for the physical inspection delay. Employers who participate in this process are also required to provide written documentation of their onboarding process for each employee whose forms was completed this way. Note that the employer is entirely responsible for this process.
When normal operations resume, any employee who was onboarded using the relaxed protocol will need to present the documentation provided for the Form to the employer for it to be inspected. This must be completed within 3 business days of resumed normal operations. Employers must also update the Form I-9 stating that “documents physically examined” with the examination date in the Additional Notes field, or within Section 3, whichever is appropriate.
The policy only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely and was originally set to expire January 31, 2021. On January 28, 2021, DHS announced that, due to ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, the Form I-9 flexibility policy will be extended for an additional 60 days, and is now set to expire on March 31, 2021.