If you have ever worked a job in the United States, you are likely familiar with Form I-9, a document that all U.S. employers are required by federal law to complete for each new hire. The purpose of Form I-9 is to verify an employee’s identity and work eligibility before they start their job. It consists of two main sections: Employees fill out Section 1 at the time of hire, while employers complete Section 2 within three business days of hiring the individual. Traditionally, Section 2 involves an in-person inspection of the employment eligibility documents provided by the employee, which can include a U.S. Passport, Permanent Resident Card, Driver’s License, School ID, and other valid identification.
However, due to the physical proximity concerns arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made a significant change in March 2020. In an effort to ensure safety while adhering to the law, they suspended the requirement for in-person inspections and allowed employers to complete Section 2 of Form I-9 remotely. It was clear, though, that ICE was not entirely in favor of remote verification and planned to return to in-person inspections as soon as circumstances permitted, including additional inspections for employees who completed Section 2 remotely.
In May 2023, ICE and the Department of Homeland Security issued new guidance, effectively putting an end to remote inspections. According to the new guidelines, July 31, 2023 is set as the last day for remote inspections to be completed. Additionally, employees who were inspected remotely must undergo an in-person inspection by Aug. 30, 2023. As these deadlines approach, employers must take steps to ensure I-9 forms are appropriately completed.
While this new guidance may not pose a significant challenge for companies with all employees living near the office, it presents a much more significant issue for those with remote workers scattered across the country. Fortunately, there are ways to conduct in-person inspections without requiring all employees to travel to company headquarters. Employers have the option to designate authorized representatives, such as personnel officers, notary publics, agents, or foremen, to complete the physical I-9 inspections on their behalf.
By being proactive and employing designated representatives, employers can navigate these changes effectively and maintain compliance with the updated regulations without undue burden on remote workers or the company’s operations. If you would like help setting up designated representatives, or want to discuss strategy to ensure compliance, a Stanton Law employment attorney can help. After all, a quick conversation can prevent major headaches down the line! Schedule a consultation today.