The new Form I-9 update and option for remote document examination is here, finally! Before we get into what all of this means, every single employer must have a completed Form I-9 on file for all employees. This is a federal regulation for Employment Eligibility Verification that goes hand in hand with the E-Verify program. A new Form I-9 has been issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the link to the new form can be found here. This form is effective August 1, 2023, and should be used for all new hires going forward. This form should also replace the old version of Form I-9 in the new hire packet documents or in the HR system used for new hire documents. Among other things, the revised form i9 update includes:
reduced Sections 1 and 2 to a single sheet
is designed to be a fillable form and more “remote” friendly for completion
includes a checkbox for remote verification of the ID documents for E-Verify enrolled employers
revises the list of acceptable documents to include allowing for some receipts temporarily until the final documents are available
reduced instructions from 15 to 8 pages
For some background on why this new form and the option for remote documentation examination is a big deal, let’s look back at how we got here.
In March of 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced flexibility in complying with requirements related to Form I-9, due to the pandemic. Employers with remote employees were allowed to obtain, remotely inspect, and retain copies of the identity and employment eligibility documents that employees provided for Section 2 of Form I-9. Rather than review the documents in person, as is normally required (and still required for onsite hires), remote verification allowed for the viewing of documents through a camera during a video call as well as the upload of copies with the completed form. This was to accommodate the increased number of people working remotely during the pandemic while maintaining compliance with employment eligibility verification. Once the pandemic flexibilities ended, employers were required to go back and physically examine the documents for new hires between March 20, 2020, and July 31, 2023, if they were originally verified remotely.
However, with the new form I-9 update & updated verification process, includes a new alternative verification procedure for eligible employers which allows employers to continue to remotely verification I-9 documents AND eligible employers are not required to go back and physically examine remotely verified employees hired during that 2 year pandemic time period. But again, it’s only for eligible employers. What constitutes an eligible employer? 1) one that was enrolled in E-Verify at the time of the new employees hire date; 2) one that has created an E-Verify case for that employee; and 3) performed the remote inspection between March 20, 2020, and July 31, 2023. If you are not eligible to use alternative procedures, meaning you are not currently enrolled in E-Verify and you do not meet all the criteria listed above, you must go back and re-inspect (physically verify) the documents in person of any employees who were hired between March 20, 2020, and July 31, 2023. As it relates to the new form and alternative verification process effective August 1st and going forward, here are some recommendations:
Determine if you wish to enroll in E-Verify to take advantage of the option to be able to remote verify employee documents, if you are not already enrolled in E-Verify or not already required to be enrolled in E-Verify
Complete an audit of your current I-9’s to ensure that you are compliant with the in-person verification requirements. This was due to be completed by end of August 2023, but if you have missed that deadline, you still must physically verify
Provide updated training for all managers, HR, or staff involved in the I-9 process for new hires
Remember, you must be enrolled in E-Verify and in good standing to be able to use the alternative verification process, which is essentially remote verification of the presented documents. If you are not enrolled in E-Verify, you must still physically verify the documents. For those eligible to remote verify, you may choose to remote verify everyone or you can remote verify remote employees and still physically verify onsite or hybrid employees but whatever you choose to do, must be done consistently. It is not a process that can be altered based on the individual, consistency is key to reducing liability. We know that this can be confusing and it’s a big change, but you don’t have to go at it alone. We are here to help!