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Department of Homeland Security Temporarily Allows for Remote Verification of Employment Eligibility Documents for Form I-9 Amid COVID-19 National Emergency


The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) encourages rescheduling appointments for sick individuals and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now makes exceptions for private employers verifying the identity of employment eligibility documents remotely.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

The DHS is allowing for flexibility in the requirements related to compliance with Form I-9.  Since many employers are allowing employees to work remotely, the DHS said in a broadcast today that “it will exercise discretion to defer the physical presence requirements associated with the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) under Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).”  If an employer has employees taking physical proximately precautions due to COVID-19 they will not be required to review the employee’s identify and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence.  Instead, employers must inspect Section 2 documents remotely, using a video link, fax or email, and obtain, inspect and retain copies of the documents.  This must still be done within three business days. 

Employers should enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Section 2 Additional Information field once physical inspection takes place after normal operations resume.  At the point that the physical inspection occurs, the employer should add “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection to Section 2 or 3, as appropriate. 

Employers who chose to check documents remotely must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee.  During an audit of the Form I-9 DHS will use the “in-person completed date” as a starting point for these employees only.  This procedure cannot be applied for employees who are not working remotely.   “However, if newly hired employees or existing employees are subject to COVID-19 quarantine or lockdown protocols, DHS will evaluate this on a case-by-case basis. Additionally, employers may designate an authorized representative to act on their behalf to complete Section 2.  An authorized representative can be any person the employer designates to complete and sign Form I-9 on their behalf.  The employer is liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations of the employer sanctions laws committed by the person designated to act on the employer’s behalf.”

DHS says that these provisions may be implemented for a period of 60 days from the date of this notice (March 20, 2020) or within three business days after the termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

USCIS has said that if an individual has an appointment at any of USCIS offices, they should reschedule if they have become ill for any reason.  Rescheduling should occur if the person:

Has traveled internationally to any country outside the U.S. within 14 days of your appointment;

Believes that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 (even if they have not travelled internationally); 

Are experiencing flu-like symptoms (such as a runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat or fever) or otherwise feel ill.

There will be no penalty for rescheduling a previously arranged appointment.  Press release

The foregoing has been prepared for the general information of clients and friends of Workplace Dynamics LLC and is not being represented as being all-inclusive or complete. It has been abridged from legislation, administrative ruling, agency directives, and other information provided by the government. It is not meant to provide legal advice with respect to any specific matter and should not be acted upon without professional counsel.