The COVID-19 pandemic has upended and changed the way employers do business in all sectors while affecting the majority of employees across the nation. Because of the times we’re currently living in, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it will use discretion to defer the “in-person” requirements associated with Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9).
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires in-person employment eligibility document verification within three days of hiring any employee – but how can that be done safely in a shelter in place world?
How to Verify Documents – Remotely
During this crisis, employers are still responsible for verifying the employment eligibility documents, but Section 2 documents can now be inspected remotely. This can be done via email, video link, or fax. They still must be inspected and copies of the documents should be retained, within three business days to comply with Section 2 of Form I-9.
Tips for Filling out the Document Verification Section on the I-9
- If you are an employer, enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Section 2 “Additional Information” field. You can do this once physical inspection has taken place.
What is Expected of You When You Verify Documents
Because of the unprecedented times we’re currently in, DHS understands you are not a document expert and they are willing to accommodate any questions or issues that may arise.
There is a period of 60 days from March 20 (which was date of the DHS notice), or within 3 business days after the termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first, in which employers will need to implement the requirements listed above.
Written documentation of remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee must be provided by the employers who use this option.
Other DHS Guidelines for I-9 Verification
If employees are physically present at a work location, there will be no exceptions for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9.
For employees who are newly hired or existing employees who are in COVID-19 quarantine, DHS will review these particular instances on a case-by-case basis.
Effective March 19, 2020, any employers who were served a Notice of Inspection by DHS during the month of March and have not already responded, will be granted an automatic extension for 60 days from the effective date. At the end of the 60-day extension period, DHS will determine if an additional extension will be granted.
Authorized representatives may be designated by employers to act on their behalf to complete Section 2. The authorized representative is any person the employer designates on their behalf to complete and sign Form I-9.
Be aware the employer is liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations of the employer sanctioned laws committed by the person designated to act on behalf of the employer.
How EPAY Can Help
Here at EPAY, we provide an online onboarding module that will guide you through the entire I-9 process while ensuring you’re compliant and help prevent violations (and their costly consequence). Take our two-minute tour today to learn more.