The year of COVID-19 continues to introduce new challenges to HR’s business-as-usual hiring processes. Thankfully, the federal government continues to listen, learn, and respond. One of the many adjustments include the I-9 verification, also known as the Employment Eligibility Verification, is a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services form. Mandated by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, it’s used to verify the identity and legal authorization to work of all paid employees in the United States.

Under normal circumstances, verification requirements include two forms of ID provided traditionally to the HR Onboarding team, in person – a difficult challenge for most companies who have shifted to virtual work environments as part of the COVID-19 “work remote” corporate and/or state government requests. Since most of us have extraordinarily full workloads in trying to keep up with the changes, GHRR has aggregated the essential information for your internal adjustments:

What you need to know:

Effective March 20, 2020 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has adjusted the requirements for in-person validation, but there are specific provisions which must be followed:

During the COVID-19 Shut-Down:

  • Employers must inspect Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax or email, etc.) and obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents, within three business days for purposes of completing Section 2.
  • Employers must enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay found in the Section 2 Additional Information field. Depending on the duration of the COVID-19 mandated virtual environment, establishing an indexing system to retrieve all relevant new employees at a later date could be a significant time-saver.
  • Even in our brave new virtual world, you must take time to physically inspect the remote documents, adding “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection to the Section 2 additional information field on the Form I-9, or to section 3 as appropriate.

After the COVID-19 Shut-Down:

  • Once normal operations resume, all employees who were onboarded using remote verification, must report to their employer within three business days for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.
  • Following the physical inspection, you need to add “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection to the Section 2 additional information field on the Form 1-9, or to section 3 as appropriate.

Adjustments, unfortunately, do not come without rules. A few provisional words from DHS worth paying attention to:

  • The later provisions can be implemented by employers for a period of 60 days from the date of this notice OR within 3 business days after the termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first.
  • DHS will NOT provide any documentation to employees. Employers who opt for the remote worker option must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee.
  • This provision only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely.
  • If there are employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being implemented at this time for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.
  • If newly hired employees or existing employees are subject to COVID-19 quarantine or lockdown protocols, OHS will evaluate this on a case-by-case basis.
  • Employers may designate an authorized representative to act on their behalf to complete Section 2. An authorized representative can be any person the employer designates to complete and sign Form 1-9 on their behalf.
  • The employer is liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations of the employer sanctions laws committed by the person designated to act on the employer’s behalf.

This sums up everything you need to know to make your own adjustments to your I-9 employment verification process. And while you’re trying to manage other more pressing operational issues, Global HR Research continues to monitor for these types of updates, and many more as they may impact your background screening requirements and processes – bookmark our newly established, and frequently updated, website to stay up to date on how COVID-19 may impact your organization.

Have additional questions? One of our experienced consultants are here to help – 1-800-790-1205, Option 1.

Sources:

Global HR Research

Department of Homeland Security

SHRM

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