The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is relaxing a requirement that employers review a new hire's Form I-9 employment eligibility verification form in the applicant's presence.

The suspension of the physical proximity requirement of Form I-9 only applies to employers and workplaces operating remotely.

The suspension, which DHS announced March 20, lasts 60 days, or within three days of the national COVID-19 emergency ending, whichever comes first.

Under the change, employers must inspect Form I-9's Section 2 documents remotely—such as by video, fax, or email—then obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents within three business days to complete Section 2.

Employers should enter "COVID-19" as the reason for the physical inspection delay in Section 2’s "Additional Information" field once the physical inspection takes place after normal operations resume.

Once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer should add "documents physically examined" with the date of inspection to the Section 2 additional information field, or to Section 3, as appropriate.

Employers who choose this option must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee.

Post-Pandemic Verification

After normal operations resume, all employees who were hired remotely must report to their employer within three business days for in-person verification.

Any subsequent audit of employment verification forms would use the "in-person completed date" as a starting point for these employees only.

DHS is currently making no exceptions for companies that still have employees on the work site. They must continue to do in-person verification.

DHS is currently making no exceptions for companies that still have employees on site.

DHS will evaluate on a case-by-case basis instances where newly hired employees or existing employees are subject to COVID-19 quarantine or lockdown protocols.

Employers with Form I-9 questions can email DHS by email or call 888.464.4218.

The agency reminds employers they are "required to monitor the DHS and ICE websites" for updates on when the extensions will end and normal operations resume.

For more information, contact CBIA's Mark Soycher (860.244.1900) | @HRHotline