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I-9 in the Age of COVID-19

4/7/2020
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So many things have changed during the coronavirus pandemic, from social distancing and stay-at-home/shelter-in-place orders to many businesses transitioning to remote work—and the handling of Form I-9 has changed as well. In response to the current situation, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced an increase in flexibility regarding I-9 requirements. 
 
Changes in I-9 Protocol 
 
First and foremost, it’s extremely important to note that an employee must complete Section 1 of Form I-9 by the end of their first day of employment—there is no change to this requirement. Likewise, if an employee is physically at the place of employment, there are no changes to the requirement for Section 2—it must be completed within three days of the employee’s hire date. 
 
However, employers with remote workplaces may inspect the work authorizations necessary for the completion of Section 2 through video link, fax, email, or another format. When completing Section 2 remotely, it still needs to be completed within the same three-day period following the date of hire and the employer is required to retain copies of the Section 2 documentation. When completing Section 2 remotely, employers must enter “COVID-19” in the Additional Information section. 
 
A physical inspection of the documents is still required and it’s imperative this is done within three days when business returns to normal operation. At that time, the date the physical inspection is made must get recorded in the Additional Information field—the DHS suggests marking “documents physically examined.” Additionally, the date of the original inspection of the documentation and the initials of the person who performed it should be present in the Additional Information section. 
 
Other I-9 Items
 
Many of the “relaxed” regulations of Section 2 also apply to Section 3, Reverification and Rehires. According to the “relaxed” regulations, if an employee presents an expired document, but the document’s expiration has been extended, this would qualify as a List B document. For example, an expired driver’s license is an acceptable List B document, provided its expiration date was extended by the issuing state. If an employer encounters this situation, they’re advised to attach a copy of the rule that allows this. 
 
GoffWilson and I-9
 
GoffWilson is a leader in Form I-9 training and compliance and has been assisting businesses to remain in compliance for decades. During these ever-changing and uncertain times, we’re committed to being a resource for our business community. If you have any questions about what the current changes to I-9 protocol mean for you or your business, contact GoffWilson today. We will schedule our next I-9 training seminar as soon as we can, hopefully later this summer. Check back with us for any updates on that!
 
Filed under:Form I-9 Compliance, Immigration Law