February 8, 2023

Volume XIII, Number 39

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Latest I-9 Virtual Flexibility Guidance

On Oct. 11, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension to compliance flexibilities governing Form I-9. The extension permits continued remote verification and additional Form I-9 flexibilities until July 31, 2023. 

ICE initially implemented the policy in March 2020, presumably responding to increased remote employment due to COVID-19. These flexibilities were narrowly and exclusively applied to employers and workplaces that were 100 percent remote, reflecting the agency’s long-standing resistance to remote I-9 verification. ICE granted some discretion in the physical presence requirements associated with Form I-9, allowing employers to inspect documentation remotely. Employers were instructed to state “COVID-19” in Section 2 on Form I-9.

Many employers have since implemented telework arrangements to adapt to changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. ICE’s guidance since March 2020 has been revised to suggest that positions that are remote, even if other positions at the same employer are not remote, are eligible for remote I-9 verification. Further reflecting the changing nature of the workplace, on Aug. 18, 2022, DHS announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) intended to explore alternative regulatory options, including making some of the current pandemic-related flexibilities permanent. 

The proposal includes a pilot program and framework allowing the DHS secretary to authorize optional alternative documentation examination procedures in the event of heightened security needs or a public health emergency. Moreover, DHS proposed adding boxes to Form I-9 that allow employers to report alternative procedures used to complete Section 2 or Section 3, as well as updates to form instructions to clarify the purposes of these boxes.  

Importantly, this NPRM doesn’t itself adopt a specific remote I-9 procedure – it is intended to formalize DHS’ authority to make some form of remote I-9 verification permanent. Subsequent adoption of I-9 remote verification procedures would require separate rulemaking.

© 2023 BARNES & THORNBURG LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 322
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About this Author

Tejas Shah Immigration Lawyer Barnes & Thornburg Chicago
Partner

Tejas Shah has the ability to take the complex and confusing nature of immigration law and simplify it for his clients. His goal is to not only help them comply with the multifaceted requirements of U.S. immigration law, but also to ensure that as clients source global talent, they thrive in environments that can be hostile to migration.

As employers increasingly seek to hire and retain talented foreign national employees to maximize competitiveness, Tejas is empathetic to their needs and offers practical immigration law advice. He is committed to guiding employers of all sizes –...

312-214-5619
Mandira Sethi Atlanta Georgia Staff Attorney Immigration Global International Barnes & Thornburg LLP
Staff Attorney

Mandira Sethi has over a decade of immigration experience as a paralegal-turned-attorney working on an extensive range of immigrant visa and nonimmigrant petitions. As an immigrant from India, Mandira has deep-rooted passion for assisting individuals, businesses, and organizations with successfully navigating the immigration process.

Having spent a number of years as a business immigration specialist and paralegal, Mandira prepares documentation and files nonimmigrant and immigrant visa petitions for Fortune 500 companies and other businesses....

404-264-4011
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