On January 27, the DHS announced another extension of this temporary rule. The rule is now set to expire on March 31, 2021.
(View the announcement here)
The physical presence requirement of the Employment Eligibility Verification, Form I-9, requires that employers, or an authorized representative, physically examine, in the employee’s physical presence, the unexpired document(s) the employee presents from the Lists of Acceptable Documents to complete the Documents fields in Form I-9’s Section 2.
On March 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security announced that effective immediately, the physical presence requirement has been temporarily suspended for employers and workplaces that are operating remotely due to COVID-19 related precautions. In other words, employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 (and operating remotely) are not required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence.
The USCIS has guidance, including example forms, is available here.
Employers must still inspect the Section 2 documents but may do so remotely (for instance, over video link, fax or email). Employers must also obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents they inspect, within three business days so as to complete Section 2. Employers are also directed to:
Employers may implement remote document inspections until May 19, 2020 (“up to 60 days from the date of the announcement”) or within three business days after the termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first. Importantly, employers who implement remote onboarding and telework policies must provide documentation for each employee. This burden rests solely with the employers.
Once normal operations resume, all employees who were onboarded using remote verification must report to their employer within three business days for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation they presented for their Form I-9. Once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer should add “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection to the Section 2 additional information field or to section 3, as appropriate.
Any audit of subsequent Forms I-9 would use the “in-person completed date” as a starting date for record retention purposes for these employees only.
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