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2016

The Department of Homeland Security has announced another extension of its guidance increasing the flexibility of rules related to Form I-9 compliance due to COVID-19. Increased I-9 flexibility will now run through October 31, 2022. This marks the 13th time the DHS has extended the relaxed rules around Form I-9 since it issued the original guidance on March 20, 2020. 
 

Form I-9 

 
Employers in the U.S. are required by federal law to complete Form I-9 for every worker they hire. For an I-9 to be complete and in compliance, an employer must examine the employee’s documentation to ensure that it appears genuine and related to the person presenting it. 
 

Form I-9 Requirement Flexibility 

 
The main function of the increased Form I-9 flexibility was a loosening of the rules related to document verification. The guidance allows employers to postpone in-person document inspection and inspect documents remotely—via video link, fax, or email—so long as they note the remote inspection and re-examine the documents in person within three days of resuming normal operations. 
 
Because of the longevity of the extension, it’s possible for an employee to have been onboarded remotely and left the employer without ever having their documents inspected in person. In these cases, employers are able to memorialize the reason for the lack of an in-person examination in a memorandum kept with the employee’s Form I-9. 
 
The guidance originally only covered workplaces and employers that were working completely remote due to the pandemic. In April 2021, the guidance was expanded to better accommodate employers slowly returning to in-person operations by allowing them to inspect I-9 documentation remotely for out-of-office employees. The expansion wasn’t retroactive and only applied to employees onboarded after its implementation. 
 

History of Increased I-9 Flexibility

 
As mentioned, above the latest extension marks the 13th time the DHS has extended the guidance—something GoffWilson has covered extensively:
 
 

Increased I-9 Flexibility Going Forward 

 
It’s hard to speculate on the future of increased I-9 flexibility. On one hand, many offices are returning to in-person operations; on the other, COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc in many places across the world. And with the guidance having already been extended 13 times, it’s reasonable to assume it will once again be extended when the time comes. 
 
DHS and ICE encourage employers to monitor their websites for updates on when the extension of I-9 flexibility will be terminated and normal I-9 rules reinstated. 
 

GoffWilson Immigration Law 

 
GoffWilson is a trusted I-9 resource, having audited thousands of Form I-9s and 
assisted businesses of all sizes to remain in compliance throughout our 30+ years of practicing immigration law. We offer a host of I-9 services to employers ranging from comprehensive company audits to public training seminars
 
GoffWilson recommends that employers take a proactive approach to their I-9s and have a plan in place for when DHS ends increased I-9 flexibility. GoffWilson can help you form a strategy to remain I-9 compliant and offer solutions to both the short-term challenges facing employers, like the guidance increasing the flexibility around document inspection, and long-term issues, like incorrectly filling out form I-9. 
 
Contact GoffWilson today to learn how we can help ensure your business remains I-9 compliant. Immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion.
 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will end its COVID-19 Temporary Policy for List B Identity Documents. Beginning May 1, employers may no longer accept expired List B documents.
 

COVID-19 Temporary Policy for List B Identity Documents

 
The COVID-19 Temporary Policy for List B Identity Documents was put in place near the beginning of the pandemic as a response to the difficulty many people had renewing documents due to office closures, online renewal restrictions, and stay-at-home orders and allowed employers to accept certain expired List B documents for Form I-9 purposes. 
 
Because document-issuing authorities have reopened or provided alternatives to in-person renewals, the DHS has ended its flexibility in regards to expired documents. Starting May 1, only unexpired List B documents are acceptable. 
 

List B Identity Documents 

 
List B documents are used to establish identity only and employees must present one of the following documents when completing Form I-9:
 
  • Drivers license issued by a state or outlying territory of the U.S.
  • ID card issued by federal, state, or local government agencies or entities, provided it contains a photograph or information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color, and address
  • School ID card with a photograph
  • Voter registration card
  • U.S. military card or draft record
  • Military dependent’s ID card
  • U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document (MMD) card
  • Native American tribal document
  • Driver’s license issued by a Canadian government authority
 
Employees under 18 are also able to present:
 
  • School record or report card
  • Clinic, doctor, or hospital record
  • Daycare or nursery school record
 

How to Manage Expired List B Documents 

 
Employers are required to update their Form I-9s by July 31, 2022, if an employee presents an expired List B document between May 1, 2020, and April 30, 2022. Here is how to handle employee I-9s completed between May 1, 2020, and April 30, 2022, with an expired List B document. 
 

Still an Employee 

 
If the person is still an employee, have them provide an unexpired List B document. In the “Additional Information” field on Form I-9, the employer must enter the document’s title, issuing authority, number, and expiration date. After that, the employer is required to initial and date the change.
 

No Longer an Employee 

 
If the person is no longer an employee, there is no need for the employer to take any action.
 

List B Document was Auto Extended 

 
In some instances, List B documents are auto extended by their issuing authority. In these cases, no action is required by the employer, because the document was unexpired when it was presented.  
 

GoffWilson Immigration 

 
GoffWilson advocates for businesses to take a proactive approach to I-9 compliance and this latest policy shift presents an opportunity to review not just your I-9s but also your I-9 practices. GoffWilson has been a leader in I-9 compliance over our 30+ years, and has helped a multitude of businesses with everything from establishing a strategy, building best practices, and performing self-audits of I-9s. Contact GoffWilson today and discover how we can help you!
 


The Department of Homeland Security designated Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months in response to what they’ve termed a “full-scale military invasion” of Ukraine by Russia and “the largest conventional military action in Europe since World War II.” The TPS designation will help protect Ukrainian nationals in the U.S. from deportation to a country under siege and into a conflict that has claimed hundreds of civilian lives and forced more than a million refugees to flee
 

What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

 
Temporary Protected Status is a program that allows eligible foreign nationals from countries considered unsafe to legally live and work in the United States for a temporary period of time—in the case of Ukraine, 18 months—but does not provide a pathway to permanent residency. The DHS Secretary can extend the designation based on conditions of the country. TPS was created by Congress in 1990 and is given for one of the three following reasons:
 
  • Ongoing armed conflict 
  • Environmental disaster 
  • Extraordinary and temporary conditions 
 
With its designation, Ukraine becomes the 13th country designated for TPS, joining Burma, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Yemen.
 
Before the designation of Ukraine, about 300,000 foreign nationals were in the country under TPS. According to a DHS estimate, the TPS designation will benefit more than 75,000 Ukrainians in the U.S. and include those here on temporary student, business, and tourist visas. It also includes roughly 4,000 Ukrainians facing deportation from the U.S., about 3,000 of which are asylum seekers.  
 

Why Ukraine Was Designated for TPS

 
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has created a humanitarian crisis as Ukrainians flee from fighting and damage to infrastructure, leaving many without necessities such as shelter, electricity, water, food, and medical services. As mentioned above, a million people have already fled the country and it’s only been a week. 
 
Furthermore, the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees has predicted the number of refugees could climb to more than four million as the invasion progresses and said in a statement, “I have worked in refugee emergencies for almost 40 years, and rarely have I seen an exodus as rapid as this one.” In the comments announcing Ukraine’s designation for TPS, DHS Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas remarked, “In these extraordinary times, we will continue to offer our support and protection to Ukrainian nationals in the United States.”
 

Who Qualifies for TPS?

 
Ukrainian nationals in the U.S. eligible for TPS under this designation must have been living in the U.S. since March 1, 2022—those who traveled to the U.S. after that date are not eligible. They must also meet certain statutory requirements, like passing security and background checks. Consequently, the designation of Ukraine for TPS doesn’t apply to the approximately one million refugees flooding into neighboring European countries. 
 
TPS designation for Ukraine will go into effect on the date it’s published in the Federal Register, something that has yet to occur. The notice in the Federal Register will also provide instructions on how to apply for TPS.
 

U.S. Suspends Deportations to Select European Countries

 
In addition to designating Ukraine for TPS and suspending deportations to the embattled country, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has also paused deportations to eight other European Nations: Russia, Belarus, Georgia, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
 
ICE has not committed to how long it will pause deportations. That said, deportations to the aforementioned countries are relatively small. For example, in 2020, ICE deported just 106 Ukrainians and 108 Russians
 

GoffWilson Immigration Law  

 
GoffWilson is an ally to Ukrainians and encourages employers and individuals to contact us with any questions they may have about the designation of Ukraine for TPS and what it means for their employees or themselves. GoffWilson solely practices immigration law and has helped businesses and individuals navigate ever-changing U.S. immigration law for over 30 years. At GoffWilson, immigration isn’t just what we do—it’s our passion.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced the H-1B registration period for the fiscal year 2023: March 1 through March 18. It’s anticipated that demand for the much sought-after H-1B visa will once again outstrip supply. Consequently, proactive employers will want to begin preparing for the H-1B registration soon to ensure everything is in order prior to the registration period and avoid a silly oversight costing them the chance at securing one of these valuable visas.    
 

What is the H-1B Visa?

 
The H-1B visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. employers to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations. The number of H-1B visas is capped per fiscal year at 85,000—20,000 H-1B visas are allocated for applicants who hold a master’s degree or higher, while the minimum education requirement for the remaining 65,000 is a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. 
 
There are some H-1B visas that are not counted against the cap. The most notable of these are for foreign workers employed by H cap-exempt organizations, such as institutions of higher learning, related and affiliated nonprofit entities associated with an institution of higher education (like teaching hospitals affiliated with university medical schools), and research organizations that are either non-profits or part of the federal government. 
 

H-1B Registration Timetable 

 
The fiscal year 2023 H-1B registration period will run from 12 pm (noon) eastern time on March 1 through 12 pm (noon) eastern time on March 18. It’s during this time that prospective petitions and representatives are required to submit registrations through the USCIS online system, myUSCIS. If enough registrations are received to meet the H-1B cap by March 18—which will more likely happen—USCIS will randomly select registrations. USCIS will send selection notifications to myUSCIS accounts by March 31. Employers will then have 90 days to file H-1B cap petitions for selected registrants.
 

H-1B Registration Timeline

 
  • March 1: H-1B registration period opens at 12 pm eastern time
  • March 18: H-1B registration period closes at 12 pm eastern time
  • March 31: Selection notifications are sent by USCIS
  • April 1: H-1B cap-subject petitions for the fiscal year are able to be filed

H-1B Registration Process

 
To register a potential H-1B visa recipient, employers or their authorized representatives must pay a $10 fee for each prospective petition and fill out some general information about them. To register a prospective H-1B recipient, you’ll need info such as their:
 
  • Full name
  • Gender
  • Date and country of birth
  • Country of citizenship
  • Passport number, if applicable
  • Advanced degree cap qualifications, if applicable
 
USCIS will assign a confirmation number to each registration submitted to the FY 2023 H-1B cap. The number is simply used to track registrations and is not for tracking case status. 
 
To register a prospective petitioner, an organization is required to have a myUSCIS account for each Employer Identification Number (EIN) entity that will sponsor beneficiaries for the FY 2023 cap season. This is regardless of whether an employer works with an immigration attorney to submit registrations or does so on its own. It’s important to note that you cannot create a new account until February 21 and trying to create one in advance of this date can create enormous headaches down the road. 
 

How to Prepare for the H-1B Registration Process 

 
H-1B registration arrives quickly and is over seemingly just as fast. Employers should start to identify prospective H-1B visa candidates as soon as possible. Some examples of where an employee may need an H Visa: Students working under Optional Practical Training (OPT) or Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and will need an H-1B visa to be eligible to be employed in the U.S. once their OPT or CPT expires. Candidates currently in H-1B status with an H-1B cap-exempt employer (institutions of higher education or a related or affiliated non-profit entity, nonprofit research organizations, or governmental research organizations) seeking employment opportunities with cap-subject employers or candidates in other nonimmigrant work status such as TN, H-3, H-2, O-1, and J-1 but need to change their status to H-1B.
 

GoffWilson Immigration 

 
We strongly recommend starting the H-1B application process as soon as possible and no later than February 15, 2022. We can help employers to develop a sound H-1B strategy—ensuring everything from hitting key deadlines to identifying the right people to put into the H-1B process.
 
GoffWilson Immigration solely practices immigration law and has assisted thousands of employers and employees with H-1B applications over our decades in practice. GoffWilson is a valuable partner through the entire H-1B process, helping to smoothly navigate everything from registration to filing a full petition. Contact GoffWilson today to learn how we can help set you up for a successful H-1B season.

Our informative must-do seminar—Clarity vs. Confusion: Navigating the World of I-9s in 2022—is coming up fast! Be on top of your game. Register Today!
 
The half-day webinar is Thursday, January 27, 2022. Here are some reasons you should register right now:
  1. You want to be current on the latest trends in I-9s.
  2. You need a refresher. Review with us new questions, choices and solutions made in completing I-9s, how to correct flawed forms and how to avoid them.
  3. You have some nagging questions about completing I-9s that you really want answered by the pro’s.
  4. Your remote hires, recent merger, potential merger or federal contracts present challenges that can be met following this informative seminar.
  5. HRCI credit and a certificate are provided to you so you maintain your HR accreditation.
  6. Our three attorney panel walks you through real examples and you receive an up to date downloadable workbook to use as a future reference.
  7. We have some awesome give-aways planned for you!
Visit our website for more information or click here to register now.

On December 15, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibility rules related to Form I-9 compliance—the policy will now run until April 30, 2022.
 

History of Increased I-9 Flexibility

 
If the extension of I-9 is beginning to feel routine, that’s because it is. This marks the 12th time the policy has been extended since DHS issued the initial guidance on March 20, 2020. GoffWilson has covered the extensions of this rule thoroughly on our blawg:
 
 

What is Allowed By Increased I-9 Flexibility 

 
DHS’s extension of its increased I-9 flexibility is the result of the precautions taken by employers and employees due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Increased I-9 rule flexibility allows employers operating remotely to postpone the in-person inspection of documents required when completing Form I-9. Instead, the rule allows employers to examine documents remotely via email, fax, or video link—provided they make the appropriate annotation and perform a physical, in-person inspection within three days of resuming normal operations. 
 
The initial policy only covered employers and workplaces that were operating completely remotely because of the pandemic. However, it was expanded in April 2021 to offer more fluidity for employers slowly returning to in-person operations, allowing them to remotely inspect I-9 documentation for remote employees. The April expansion wasn’t retroactive, and only applied to employees onboarded after its implementation.
 

The Future of I-9 Flexibility 

 
The future of increased I-9 flexibility remains unclear and employers are encouraged to monitor the DHS and ICE websites for updates on when the extensions will be terminated and normal operations resume. That said, with COVID-19 cases surging in much of the country and the rule having been extended numerous times already, it’s reasonable to assume another extension when the current one is set to expire. Of course, they could just as easily end the extension without warning.   
 
It’s also worth noting that the DHS is seeking information from employers on their use of remote verification options, and exploring “alternative options” for physical document examination in the future.
 

GoffWilson Immigration 

 
Because of the uncertainty of the future of increased Form I-9 flexibility and the complexity it has added to I-9 compliance, it’s vital for employers to understand the rules and have a strategy in place for when the DHS rescinds the additional I-9 flexibility. GoffWilson has more than 30 years of experience practicing immigration law and is a valuable asset to businesses of all sizes when it comes to I-9 compliance.
 
GoffWilson solely practices immigration law and offers a number of I-9 services to employers, including comprehensive company audits, training workshops, and public training seminars. If you have a question about what the most recent I-9 flexibility extension means for your business or want to have a plan in place for when normal operations resume, GoffWilson can help. Contact GoffWilson today to learn how we can ensure your business is I-9 compliant. Immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion.
 

In response to a lawsuit, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has agreed to change its policy in regards to L-2 and H-4 Employment Authorization Documents (EAD). This is fantastic news for the tens of thousands of spouses of high-skilled foreign nationals who have suffered substantial delays in the processing of their work authorization—causing them to stop working or to lose their job. By law, USCIS is required to process applications within 30 days, but recently it has taken up to a year or more. 

The Settlement 

 
The legal settlement with USCIS will bring relief to many of the L-2 and H-4 spouses by eliminating hurdles in the employment authorization process. 
 
L-2: Once the settlement goes into effect, L-2 spouse visa holders will have automatic work authorization and will no longer need to apply for an EAD. Simply put, L-2 visa holders (with a valid L-2 I-94) are authorized to work. 
 
H-4: Once implemented by USCIS, certain H-4 spouses with EAD renewal applications—those who timely file EAD renewals and have H-4 status beyond their current EAD expiration—are eligible for an automatic extension of their work authorization for up to 180 days. The length of the auto-extension will be the earlier of the following:
  • The end of the H-4 status, as determined by their I-94 record
  • The approval or denial of the EAD application
  • 180 days from the current EAD expiration date

What the Settlement Means 

 
The settlement will provide a sigh of relief to many L-2 and H-4 spouses who have faced significant disruptions to their work lives due to processing delays. USCIS will also benefit from this settlement—it eliminates a huge processing backlog and frees up adjudicators to help in other workstreams. Lastly, it’s great news for the country as a whole as it adds valuable workers to an economy struggling to fill jobs.
 

What Lies Ahead

 
While USCIS has come to a settlement agreement, implementation is not immediate. USCIS is expected to announce formal policy guidance within the next 120 days that details how it will execute the new policies and address Form I-9 employment eligibility verification. There is also still litigation pending that could achieve broader changes and further address delays for employment authorization that affect H-4 spouses.
 

GoffWilson Immigration 

 
GoffWilson Immigration continues to monitor developments related to the USCIS settlement and will post updates as more information becomes available. GoffWilson solely practices immigration law and has been a valued partner to businesses and families navigating the complex and ever-changing immigration process for over three decades. Contact GoffWilson today if you have questions about the USCIS settlement or any other immigration issues.

In what’s becoming a regular occurrence, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has once again extended its flexibility in complying with the requirements related to Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, due to COVID-19. This is the eleventh time increased I-9 flexibility has been extended since the issuance of the initial guidance on March 20, 2020.
 

What the I-9 Flexibility Extension Means for Employers

 
The extension of increased I-9 flexibility has been a long and ongoing occurrence for employers and something we’ve detailed extensively on our blawg:  
 
 
The latest extension will run through December 31, 2021. By the end of the year, the DHS will have to decide whether to once again extend I-9 flexibility or resume “normal” operations. The DHS cautions employers to monitor both the DHS’s and ICE’s Workforce Enforcement Announcements for information about when the extensions end and normal operations resume.
 

What is Increased I-9 Flexibility?

 
The increased I-9 flexibility allows employers more maneuverability when reviewing an employee’s identity and employment authorization documents, enabling them to verify an employee’s identity and authorization documents remotely using fax, email, or a video link. Employers should enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the delay of physical inspection. When “normal” operations resume, employers have just three business days to physically inspect the documents. 
 
It’s worth noting there are different standards for who qualifies for increased I-9 flexibility depending on the date an employee was hired:
 
  • Employees hired before May 31, 2021, only qualified for I-9 flexibility if their workplaces were operating totally remotely—that is, no employees were physically present at a work location. 
  • Employees hired on or after April 1, 2021, are offered more leeway and only need to work in a remote setting due to COVID-19 precautions to qualify for increased I-9 flexibility, as the DHS and ICE made adjustments in order to accommodate for evolving workplaces.    
 
Employees hired on or after April 1, 2021, will remain exempt from physical document inspection requirements until they return to non-remote work on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, or the increased flexibility related to I-9 is terminated. Employers returning to a hybrid office/work-from-home arrangement that completed I-9s remotely will need to verify I-9 documentation in person within three days, once return to work is initiated.  
 

Increased I-9 Flexibility Going Forward

 
It’s difficult to predict how the DHS will handle increased I-9 flexibility going forward, but given that it has been extended numerous times, and COVID-19 continues to disrupt workplaces, it’s likely it will get extended again at the start of 2022. Then again, there is a chance that the flexibility could end one day without warning. 
 

The Challenge of Increased I-9 Flexibility  

 
Increased I-9 flexibility has provided a valuable solution to employers dealing with the challenges presented by COVID-19, but it also poses some serious issues for employers. Most notably challenged are employers that have hired a large number of employees who completed their I-9s through the exception—they’ll have just three days to complete an in-person review of required documentation when “normal” operations resume. 
 
Furthermore, employers must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for every employee. Proactive businesses will want to have a plan in place to remain in I-9 compliance by verifying these employees’ documentation within the three-day window. 
 

GoffWilson Immigration Law

 
GoffWilson has more than 30 years of experience practicing immigration law and is a trusted partner to businesses of all sizes in I-9 compliance—assisting through comprehensive company audits, training workshops, and public training seminars. If you have a question about what the latest extension means for your business or want to develop a strategy for when “normal” operations resume, GoffWilson can help. Contact GoffWilson today to learn how we can assist your business in navigating I-9 regulations or any immigration issues. Immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that certain F-1 students seeking optional practical training (OPT) can file Form I-765 online beginning April 15, 2021. This creates a more user-friendly option for eligible students and will help increase the efficiencies for adjudicators. 
 
USCIS has made news recently for lengthy OPT delays and in February, 18 international students filed a class-action lawsuit against USCIS and ICE in response to delays.  
 

What is OPT?

 
OPT is a temporary employment option that allows F-1 students to work in positions related to their area of study. Eligible students can apply to work for up to 12 months before completing their studies (pre-completion OPT) or for 12 months after completing their academic program (post-completion OPT). F-1 students graduating with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math ) degrees are eligible to apply for an additional 24-month OPT extension. 
Who is Eligible to File Online?
 
Online filing is limited to F-1 students filing Form I-765 for OPT. F-1 students eligible to file online fall into one of three categories: 
 
  • Pre-Completion OPT
  • Post-Completion OPT
  • 24-Month Extension of OPT for STEM graduates
 
Filing online is not mandatory. USCIS will continue to accept the latest paper version of Form I-765 by mail.
 

Benefits of the Online Option 

 
The option to electronically file Form I-765 offers students a handful of benefits over the traditional paper form. Students filing online have 24/7 access to the status of their case and expedited communication with USCIS—notices are sent online, eliminating mailing time. Form I-765 applications are processed in order of arrival, and while online submissions aren’t prioritized over paper forms, filing online will get you in the queue more quickly.    
 

Increasing Online Access

 
The move to allow the filing of Form I-765 is a positive step toward increasing electronic options at USCIS. According to Tracy Renaud, Senior Official Performing the Duties of USCIS Director, “USCIS remains committed to maximizing our online filing capabilities.” 
 

GoffWilson Immigration 

 
GoffWilson solely practices immigration law and has a decades-long history of helping businesses, institutions of higher education, and students navigate ever-changing and complex immigration laws. If you have a question about the new online filing option, STEM OPT compliance, or any other immigration questions, contact GoffWilson today. Immigration isn’t just what we do, it’s our passion!

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has extended their Form I-9 flexibility policy an additional 60 days—it’s now set to expire on May 31, 2021. They have also altered the language of the original guidance to broaden its scope.  
 

I-9 Flexibility Timeline  

 
The guidance that expanded I-9 flexibility was originally instituted on March 19, 2020, in response to a vast swath of U.S. businesses transitioning their workforce to remote operations because of COVID-19. This is the ninth time the policy has been extended since its implementation, a process we have detailed extensively on our blawg: 
 
 
It’s also a process we continue to monitor and advise clients on as businesses look toward the future, and begin to resume “normal” operations. 
 

I-9 Flexibility Expanded Range

 
One notable change in the updated guidance alters who this provision affects. Prior to the latest guidance, eligibility was limited to “employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. If there are employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being implemented…” In a concession to today’s evolving workplace, the DHS and ICE have expanded the scope of whom the provision applies to, which now includes “employees hired on or after April 1, 2021” who “work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions…”
 
This change allows some flexibility for companies with only small teams working in the office—such as security or IT—while the majority of their workforce is still operating remotely. It also accommodates businesses slowly phasing onsite employees back in. It’s important to note that this provision isn’t retroactive, but only applies going forward. 
 

Looking Ahead at I-9 Flexibility

 
The latest increased I-9 flexibility provision has assuaged some concerns of employers, but questions remain moving forward, the largest of which revolves around the termination of the guidance. Employers are encouraged to monitor the DHS and ICE websites for additional updates regarding the status of Form I-9 completion flexibilities and there is some fear that the policy could end one day without warning. For this reason, we encourage employers to update I-9s in person whenever possible. 
 
We are advising employers to have a strategy for when this guidance expires and normal I-9 processing resumes. Currently, businesses will have three days after the policy ends to inspect documents, update expired List B documents in person, and ensure original forms are accounted for. We also suggest that employers first confirm they’re eligible to take advantage of the expanded scope of I-9 flexibility before moving to virtual completion. 
 

GoffWilson Immigration Law

 
The fluidity of the order makes it challenging for businesses to form and implement long-term I-9 compliance plans, but GoffWilson can help. For more than 30 years, we have practiced immigration and have been an important resource—through comprehensive company audits, training workshops, and public training seminars—for businesses of all sizes committed to remaining in I-9 compliance. Contact GoffWilson today to learn how we can help your business navigate the ever-changing I-9 regulations.
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