On May 27th the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (USCIS) announced the extension of the flexibility in complying with the requirements as they relate to the Form I-9 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The initial date was set to expire on May 31st, but is now extended through August 31, 2021.
The flexibility stems from the precautions employers are taking as they relate to the physical proximity recommendations set forth by the CDC. As of April 1, 2021, the requirement that employers inspect employees’ Form I-9 identity and employment eligibility documentation in-person applies only to those employees who physically report to work at a company location on any regular and consistent basis. Employers with employees taking these precautions will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence. Instead, employers must inspect the Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax or email, etc.) and obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents, within three business days for purposes of completing Section 2. Employers also should enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Section 2 Additional Information field.
Once normal business operations resume, any employees who were onboarded using the remote verification process must report to their employer within three business days for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9. Once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer should add “documents physically examined” with the date of the inspection to the Section 2 additional information field on the Form I-9.
This provision only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. If there are employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being implemented at this time for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.
Additional information can be found at https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/dhs-announces-flexibility-requirements-related-form-i-9-compliance