I-9 Compliance During COVID-19: DHS Announces Flexibility for Employers Working Remotely and Automatic Extension for NOIs
March 26, 2020
By: Jay E. Ingle
Flexibility for In-Person Verification
The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it will relax its compliance rules for Initial Employee Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) for employers who are operating remotely in keeping with the restrictions being put in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and the encouragement to work remotely.
The accommodations from DHS relax the requirement in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) that employers review original employment eligibility documentation in the presence of the employee within three days of hiring. Employers must still inspect eligibility documents but may do so remotely. The physical presence requirements are not removed, but instead are delayed for 60 days or 3 business days after the termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first. Once normal operations resume, employees onboarded using remote verification must provide the required verification in person within 3 business days.
“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.” Employers who avail themselves of the remote verification option must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee. This burden rests solely with the employers.
Additional information can be found in the DHS Announcement, which can be found HERE.
Automatic Extension for NOIs
DHS also announced that beginning on March 19, 2020, any employers who were served NOIs 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.