The Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that employers will no longer be allowed to remotely inspect employees’ Form I-9 as of July 31, 2023 and there will be a 30-day grace period during which employers who remotely inspected employees’ Form I-9 documents during the pandemic must re-inspect their physical documents in person by August 30, 2023.
Employers should develop plans to identify affected workers whose employment authorization documents were reviewed virtually, communicate with those workers, and prepare them to physically present their employment authorization documents, schedule in-person meetings and correct Form I-9s. Notations should be made in Section 2’s Additional Information field. If the same person performs both the remote and subsequent physical inspections for a reverification, the notation can state, “COVID-19 documents physically examined,” initial, and date. If a different person performs the physical inspection, the same notation should be made, but that person should also write their full name and title, instead of their initials. Examples of the required notations can be found here.
While ICE permits employers to fix minor technical or procedural violations, if those violations go uncorrected or are numerous, employers may be subject to civil fines, criminal penalties, debarment from government contracts, and specific court orders. Monetary penalties range from $573 to $20,130 per violation for knowingly hiring and continuing to employ unauthorized individuals to $230 to $2,292 per violation for technical or substantive issues, including failing to produce a Form I-9.
Starting July 31, 2023, for employers who have new hires who work remotely, someone will need to examine their I-9 documents within three business days from the start of employment. DHS is moving forward with the proposed rule that would authorize alternatives to the in-person inspection of I-9 documents (the Proposed Rule), which was published in August 2022. The public comment period for the Proposed Rule ended on October 17, 2022, and DHS is expected to issue a final rule sometime later this year.
If you have any questions regarding this change to remote inspections of Form I-9 documents please reach out to PMP.