The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is making temporary changes to Form I-9 review processes.
Amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the department is relaxing the requirement for employers to review I-9 documents for new employees in person.
“Employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence,” DHS said.
This comes as more employers are incorporating remote working practices for their employees to prevent the spread of the virus and lessen the effects of a global pandemic.
The change is applicable for companies and workplaces that are operating entirely remotely, according to a report from the Society for Human Resources Management.
Employers still must obtain, inspect and retain Section 2 documents within three business days regardless of whether a remote work setting is in place. That can be done via video conferencing, fax or email.
DHS is instructing employers to list “COVID-19” under the additional information field in Section 2 as the reason the physical inspections are being delayed.
Employees who were hired using remote verification must report to their employer for in-person verification within three business days after normal on-site operations resume.
The words “documents physically examined” should be added to Section 2 along with the date of inspection after the documents have been verified in person.
These provisions are effective through May 19 or within three days after the conclusion of the coronavirus national emergency, whichever comes first.
SHRM has more information about how to complete I-9 verification during the coronavirus pandemic.
Additionally, many employers participate in E-Verify voluntarily for added protection in meeting the legal requirements of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), the federal statute that governs the Form I-9.
Meanwhile, E-Verify is temporarily modifying its policies to minimize employer and employee burden during this time of uncertainty.
That includes giving employers the option of delaying the creation of new cases due to COVID-19 precautions. If case creation is delayed, employers are asked to select “other” from the drop-down list on the E-Verify form and list “COVID-19” as the specific reason.
Timeframes to resolve issues, such as tentative non-conformations, are being extended. Tentative non-conformations arise when employee information does not match information in federal records.
Despite these changes, employers still cannot take adverse action against an employee because of issues that arise during the E-Verify process.
Syndeo handles all E-Verify requirements for its clients as part of a full-service human resources offering.
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~Josh Heck, Marketing Manager, Syndeo