End of COVID-19 Flexibilities for Employment Verification Form (I-9)
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the end of the COVID-19 flexibilities for the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9). The recent announcement clarifies that employers have until August 30, 2023, to conduct all necessary physical examinations of identity and employment eligibility documents for individuals hired on or after March 20, 2020, who have only received remote examinations under the COVID-19 flexibilities.
What is Changing?
Under the COVID-19 flexibilities, employers were allowed to defer physical examination of employees' documents if they were taking COVID-19 precautions. Instead, remote examination methods such as video, fax, or email could be used, with "COVID-19" noted as the reason for the delay in the Section 2 Additional Information field on the Form I-9. Once the documents were physically examined, the employer was required to add "documents physically examined" with the examination date to the appropriate section on the Form I-9.
What Must Employers Do?
Companies need to create a plan on how they will re-certify the I-9's and documents for current employees:
Identify all active employees hired on or after March 20, 2020.
Communicate with employees outlining timing for compliance and setting repercussions for not cooperating.
Of those employees, identify ones that had their identity and employment eligibility documents viewed using the COVID-19 flexibilities (e.g., over video, fax, or email).
Arrange for those employees to have their identity and employment eligibility documents physically reviewed by a company representative.
Update the Section 2 Additional Information field on the Form I-9 with the “documents physically examined” date in blue ink and initialed by a company representative.
If a company representative and employee are not located in the same city which prevents the company representative from inspecting the documents (remote employees), the employer must seek an alternative method. This can include using a local HR consulting firm, a notary, or a company that provides remote I-9's, a physical review of the documents, and a completion of the I-9.
If an employer uses electronic I-9's, verify with your HRIS to identify remote COVID I-9's in the system, confirm a workflow exists to update these remote COVID I-9's with a physical inspection, and ensure the system tracks the completion of updates to remote COVID I-9's.
Whichever option an employer has determined to re-certify I-9's, ultimately the employer is responsible for the proper completion of remote I-9's for new hires including re-verifying prior I-9's by August 30, 2023.
What is the Timeline?
The COVID-19 flexibilities end on July 31, 2023. DHS and ICE are allowing an additional 30 days to have all I-9's impacted by the flexibilities be reviewed and updated. All corrections must be done no later than August 30, 2023.
However, ICE plans to publish a final rule later this year that would clarify when alternatives to in-person inspection of identity and employment authorization documents in the Form I-9 process are permissible.
How Can Premier HR Solutions Help?
Premier HR Solutions can provide services for I-9 recertification or new hires for Austin, TX and the surrounding cities. Additionally, we can audit all I-9's and make corrections for companies.