Federal law requires that employers must properly complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for each worker hired to perform labor or services in the United States. The form documents that the employer took steps to verify the identity and employment authorization of the worker. Normally, the employer must physically examine each document submitted by the employee to determine whether it reasonably appears to be genuine and related to the person presenting it.
Due to safety precautions implemented to protect communities from the coronavirus (COVID-19), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued guidance in March 2020 that employers may temporarily postpone the in-person verification requirement with a remote inspection (e.g., video, fax, email). The announcement included instructions for annotating the Form I-9 when using the flexibility rules. Recently, DHS extended this policy through December 31, 2021.
The provision applies to employers and employees working remotely due to the COVID pandemic. Once operations resume, employers that inspected employee documents remotely must re‑examine those documents in-person. Accordingly, employers must keep track of those employees whose records must be reexamined when the provision expires.
After completing the Form I-9, employers enrolled in E‑Verify may electronically confirm the identity and employment eligibility of newly hired employees. E-Verify compares the data from the Form I-9 against government records. It is a free, online service administered by DHS and the Social Security Administration.
Related: DHS also recently extended other flexibilities for certain petitioners and applicants responding to immigration-related benefit requests.