Changes to Form I-9 Physical Document Inspection: What Employers Need to Know as Covid-19 Regulations Lift
With DHS’ announcement to end Form I-9 requirement flexibility, employers have until August 30th, 2023 to complete in-person verification. Here’s what you need to know to prepare.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced the official sunset date for COVID-19 related Form I-9 physical document inspection flexibilities. While employers have been able to inspect documents virtually to adhere to physical proximity precautions — provided they could inspect the document at a later date – as of July 31st, 2023, and going forward, employers must physically inspect all employee work authorization and identification documents presented for the Form I-9 process.
And that “later date” has been accounted for too – ICE advised that employers have 30 days after the temporary rule expires, or until August 30th, 2023, to complete an in-person verification of all employee documents that were virtually verified since March 2020.
In a recent client alert, we highlighted the upcoming changes regarding the physical document inspection process for Form I-9, as announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Here’s a summary of what you need to know (and how you can best prepare!).
How Can You Prepare for the Sunset Date of the Form I-9 Inspection Requirement Flexibility?
You do not need to wait until July 31st, 2023, to start physically inspecting employee documents that were initially reviewed virtually. In fact, employers are encouraged to start the physical document inspection as soon as possible to meet the August 30th, 2023, deadline. Here are a few steps you should begin taking immediately to prepare.
Identify and account for all Form I-9’s requiring updates.
Again, no later than August 30th, 2023, employers must physically inspect the employee documents that were virtually verified due to COVID-19. How you do this depends upon how your organization coded COVID-19 impacted I-9s. Ideally, you’ve been tracking your completed COVID I-9s from the start.
Create a project plan.
The plan should ensure that your employee population is notified and provided background on what is required, the requisite timing for compliance, and the repercussions for not cooperating. It should also outline how updates will be tracked in your documentation system or tracking software.
Decide if your physical inspection will occur at the worksite.
Will you require folks still working from home to come in, or use an Authorized Representative model (or hybrid offering)?
Prepare training materials.
Train your team on how to conduct physical inspections. Ensure they are aware of the nuanced rules, provide samples and guidance to your teams, or authorized representatives, describing how to physically update the forms.
Follow the rules.
Allow employees to present their choice of identity and work authorization document(s) when updating Form I-9s. They do not need to present the same document(s).
Check on E-Verify
When updating an I-9, check to ensure that E-Verify cases were run and correctly closed, where applicable.
Document your process
In addition to documenting your project plan, ensure that you have the required “written documentation” outlining your “remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee” required by ICE in the original March 20th, 2020 announcement.
There are a number of other details to outline and consider — like who will oversee the I-9 updating, how the on-site verification process will work, and how you can translate that new data into your compliance system to ensure full compliance. As you think through some of these questions and updates, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Tracker I-9 team as a current client or schedule a demo for some COVID-19: Deferred Physical Inspection guidance in the form of the articles.
While the government’s May 4th announcement lays out clear expectations and guidelines, it is possible that DHS and/or ICE could come forward with new or different information that impacts employers and this process. Mitratech will continue to monitor the situation and ensure clients are aware of these updates.