In March 2020, with many employers moving to remote work due to COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced COVID-19 certain more flexible ways to complete I-9 document verification requirements.  These flexibilities allowed for the temporary use of video link, fax, or email confirmation of document validity.  Prior to that, it was required that all verification be done in person. Recently, DHS has announced that COVID-19 allowances for non-physical verification of I-9 documents expire on July 31, 2023.

DHS is also requiring employers to reverify identification documents by in-person inspection for all employees who were verified remotely between March 1, 2020 and today. This must be completed by August 30, 2023.

There are several options for physical examination of COVID-19 era completed I-9 documents.

  • If the same company representative (person who did the first inspection) is doing the physical verification of the documents, you can use the employee’s original I-9 form (print if the original is an electronic copy) and write “COVID-19 document. Physically examined on [date] by [name of person]” in the Additional Information field of Section 2 on the form.
    • If the original identifying document has expired and been re-issued, you will need make note of the new document number in the Additional Information field of the I-9 form or complete Section 3 of the I-9 form.
    • If the original document is expired, you should not require the employee to produce a non-expired version of that document and can continue the inspection consistent with DHS guidance of acceptable identification.
    • If different identifying documents are being used for the physical inspection, a new Section 2 of the form should be completed, signed and attached to the original I-9 form.
    • If the employee’s immigration status has changed, a new Section 2 of the I-9 form must be completed, signed and attached to the original.
  • If a different company representative is doing the physical verification, regardless of document or employee immigration status changes, a new Section 2 of the I-9 form must be completed, signed, and attached to the original.
  • If your employee(s) are unable to physically present documents to you due to their remote location, you can have the employee(s) go to an authorized representative to complete the I-9 form.
  • If an employee has terminated before physical inspection is completed, make note of the date of separation in the Additional Information field of the employee’s original I-9 form.

While there are discussions of making flexible I-9 verification processes permanent, as of the writing of this article, the communication provided by the DHS only states that the flexibilities are being rescinded at the end of July.

The Personnel Perspective recommends checking the I-9s of all hires made between March 1, 2020, and the present in order to confirm physical verification of required I-9 documentation.  If you have any questions, please contact us.

The Personnel Perspective is an HR consulting company that provides full-service management consulting specializing in human resources, leadership development and training, recruiting, and retained HR consulting near you. The firm’s core belief is that a company achieves organizational excellence through its people.  Contact us to learn more at (707) 576-7653.