On March 20, 2020, in response to the challenges faced by employers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), announced temporary flexibility in the requirements for completing Form I-9, while employers were operating remotely.
Employers whose workforce was operating remotely could inspect the Section 2 identity and employment eligibility documentation remotely — via video link, fax or email, within three business days of hire, and the employer was required to retain copies of these documents. This provision only applied to employers and workplaces that were operating remotely — no exceptions were made if employees were physically present at a work location.
Effective April 1, 2021, DHS provided an update to its Form I-9 flexibilities guidance, stating that, as of April 1, 2021 through May 31, 2021, the requirement that employers inspect employees’ Form I-9 identity and employment eligibility documentation in-person applies only to those employees who physically report to work at a company location on any regular, consistent, or predictable basis. If employees hired on or after April 1, 2021, work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions, they are temporarily exempt from the physical inspection requirements associated with the Form I-9, until they undertake non-remote employment on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier.
On May 27, 2021 the flexibility guidance was extended once again, from June 1, 2021 through August 31,2021. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, DHS has again extended the Form I-9 flexibility guidance until December 31, 2021.
Employers should continue to monitor the DHS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) websites for additional updates by clicking here.