August 30, 2023 – Employer Deadline to Update I-9s Completed Remotely Due to COVID-19
Since March 2020, employers have been allowed the flexibility to temporarily defer the “physical examination” of employees’ identity and employment authorization documents for the Form I-9, if the employer is taking physical proximity precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employers meeting this criterion have been allowed to examine employees’ documents remotely, such as by video, fax, or email. When doing this, the employer was required to enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical examination delay in the Section 2 Additional Information field of the Form I-9.
July 31, 2023 – End of I-9 Flexibilities
This flexibility ends on July 31, 2023. Starting August 1, 2023, all employers must return to physical inspections of I-9’s.
On May 4, 2023, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that employers will have a 30-day grace period from July 31, 2023 to reach compliance. This means that employers who have utilized this flexibility to inspect I-9 documents remotely must physically inspect them by August 30, 2023.
Companies can perform the physical inspection of documents at their own worksites, so long as all employees performing the inspections have been trained on how to update the I-9 forms. They can also use an offsite third-party representative to complete in-person inspections, although the employer still maintains liability for any errors by a third party that accepted an invalid document.
Once the employees’ documents are physically examined, the employer needs to add “documents physically examined” AND the date of examination AND the name of the examiner to Section 2 Additional Information field on the Form I-9.
There are many rules surrounding the Form I-9. It can be a challenge for many employers to get everything right, but it is the employer’s responsibility to do so. Pleading ignorance (i.e., “we didn’t know”) doesn’t exempt an employer from penalties if they’re audited and are found not to be in compliance.
This article does not represent legal advice. Employers are encouraged to consult with legal counsel regarding questions and compliance surrounding the Form I-9.
- SHRM HR Daily Newsletter, 5/9/2023. “In-Person Inspection of I-9s Due Aug. 30”, by Allen Smith, J.D., May 8, 2023.
- SHRM’s HR Week, 5/22/2023. “How to Prepare to Update I-9s Completed Remotely”, by Roy Maurer, May 15, 2023.
- SHRM HR Daily Newsletter, 5/25/2023. “Employers Frustrated by Return of In-Person Review of I-9s for Remote Employees”, by Allen Smith, J.D., May 24, 2023.
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