Form I-9 Remote Inspection Procedure Extended
USCIS has extended its remote I-9 document inspection policy until June 18, 2020.
Under the standard rules, employers must physically inspect and verify documents as presented by new employees during the I-9 process.
Under the COVID-19 emergency measure, ICE has relaxed enforcement of this standard requirement and is permitting qualifying employers to implement remote I-9 identity and employment authorization document reviews until June 18, 2020.
There may be further extensions to this date in response to the COVID-19 situation.
The measure applies until the interim policy expires or 3 days after the COVID-19 emergency is over, whichever comes first.
Use of the amended COVID-19 procedure
Under the measure, eligible employers who opt to use the interim guidelines will be able to inspect Section 2 documents remotely, by video, fax or email.
The deadlines under the standard procedure remain applicable, meaning Section 1 of the I-9 must be completed by the employee’s start date and Section 2 must be completed within 3 business days of the start date.
Employers must retain copies of the documents inspected and also provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and working policy for each employee.
Employers who are relying on the temporary concession should note that remote inspections are only allowed if the individual is working remotely as a result of the crisis.
The policy is not mandatory and employers may opt to continue to follow the standard Form I-9 procedures. This could include appointing agents to perform the inspection on the employer’s behalf.
ICE also has discretion to permit use of the policy where quarantine or stay-at-home requirements are applicable to new employees.
The relaxation does not apply to workplaces that are not operating entirely remotely and where some employees are still physically reporting to a work location.
Corrected checks after the emergency
The measure is temporary and intended to support employers during the crisis.
Once the standard procedure is resumed, employers will have three working days to inspect and verify the physical I-9 documents for all hires that had been onboarded remotely under the COVID-19 emergency provisions.
In practical terms, employers should input “COVID-19” into the Section 2 ‘additional information’ field as the reason for the delayed physical inspection. Once normal operations have resumed and the physical documents verified, the employer should then add “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection to the Section 2 additional information field (or Section 3 in reverification situations).
Further extension on I-9 inspections
In a further announcement, ICE advised that an automatic extension of 30 days would be granted to employers who had received a Notice of Inspection issued in March 2020 but who had not yet responded. This is in addition to the 60 day extension already granted, as under the ICE announcement on March 20.
US immigration advice
NNU Immigration is actively monitoring the impact of the pandemic on US immigration policy and application processing.
As the situation continues to develop, please contact our US immigration specialists for the latest advice for your specific circumstances.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.
Last updated: 26 May 2020