DHS Extends Form I-9 Flexibility
On November 18, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) extended the flexibility in complying with Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification due to COVID-19 until December 31, 2020.
What Is Form I-9?
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) requires employers in the United States to complete Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification, by which all newly-hired employees verify their identity and their employment authorization to work in the country. Both the employers and the employees must complete this form within three days of hire.
Changes Due to COVID-19
The temporary guidance that was to expire on November 19 has now been extended until December 31. The Form I-9 flexibility was initially announced by the DHS in March of this year as a step towards easing regulations during the COVID-19 global pandemic. Employers who are operating remotely can see the modifications to the Employment Eligibility Verification in my previous blog post. The original news release gives more information on how to obtain, remotely inspect, and retain copies of the identity and employment eligibility documents to complete Section 2 of Form I-9. See this in my previous blog post. Since March, the DHS has extended the Form I-9 flexibility five times.
This flexibility applies only to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. Participants of E-Verify who meet the criteria and follow remote inspection should follow the current guidance and continue to create cases and verify new hires within three business days from the date of hire. Employers transitioning back from remote work are required to physically examine the Form I-9 documents and complete Section 2 appropriately. Employers should note “documents physically examined” in the additional information field in Section 2 of the form and enter the date of inspection and “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay.
Employers whose businesses are not completely operating remotely can designate an authorized representative of their choice to act on their behalf to complete Section 2 remotely.
In its press release, the DHS urged employers to monitor both the DHS and ICE websites for additional updates on flexibility extensions.