Update to COVID-19 Flexibilities and Employment Verification
Normally, when an employer hires an individual, the employer must verify that the individual has proper documentation to show that the individual has employment authorization to work for the employer. This is done through the employer’s completion of the Form I-9 and the employee’s demonstration of the documentation in person. When the COVID-19 pandemic arose in March 2020, employers had the option to review such documentation remotely. As employees return to the workplace, U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) announced that employers must conduct in-person verification of the documents that were previously reviewed remotely. As we shared in an earlier post, employers have until August 30, 2023 to comply with this in-person document verification.
More recently, ICE announced an alternative option for employers who reviewed documentation remotely. For those employers who meet the criteria below, instead of doing an in-person document verification, they have the option of doing yet another remote verification. Only those employers who meet all four of the criteria below have this alternative option. Such employers must
- Have performed remote examination of an employee’s documents between March 20, 2020, and July 31, 2023;
- Have been enrolled in E-Verify at the time they completed the Form I-9 for that employee;
- Have created a case in E-Verify for that employee (except for reverification); and
- Be currently enrolled in and continue to participate in E-Verify.
Per the USCIS guidance “[e]ven if the employer performed steps similar to the alternative procedure at the time of hire, the employer must still complete the steps of the new alternative procedure to finalize the Form I-9.” If an Employer chooses to use the new alternative procedure, examination of the employee’s Form I-9 documents must be done through live video.
In short, employers who availed themselves of the COVID-19 flexibilities that allowed them to verify employee documents remotely, must now either do so in-person OR via the alternative option, but only if they meet all four of the criteria above; all by August 30, 2023.
The above has been provided for informational purposes only.