On December 23, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of its policy allowing flexibility in requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19.
This temporary guidance, issued on March 20th, 2020, was set to expire on December 31, 2020. Because of ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, DHS has extended this policy an additional 30 days until January 31, 2021.
Employers operating remotely due to COVID-19 are not required to review an employee’s employment eligibility documents in the employee’s physical presence. Employers must review the Section 2 documents remotely, through email, fax, etc., and retain physical copies within three business days. Employers should write “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in Section 2 Additional Information. Employers must provide written documentation of remote onboarding and a copy of their telework policy. Once normal operations resume, employees on boarded remotely must report to their employers within three business days. Employers should physically inspect the employment eligibility documents and write “documents physically examined” with the date in Section 2 Additional Information.
You can read more about the guidelines, and how employers should navigate remote work and completing Form I-9 here.
This guidance only applies to employers and workplaces operating remotely. If employees are physically present at a work site, there are no exceptions for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation. Employers should monitor the DHS and ICE website for updates about when normal operations will resume.
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