I-9 Flexibility as COVID-19 response

Last Updated on May 10, 2022 by G. T. HR

Department of Homeland Security Responds to COVID-19 with I-9 Flexibility in Document Verification

On March 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that it will defer the physical presence requirements when reviewing an employee’s documents related to the Form I-9.

The DHS states that if an employee is taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19, the Employer will not be required to review the employee’s identity and authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence until normal operations resume.

Who is Eligible for I-9 Flexibility?

This provision only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely due to COVID-19. If the employee is physically present, no exceptions are being implemented at this time. However, if a newly hired employee or existing employee is subject to COVID-19 quarantine or lockdown protocols, DHS will evaluate this on a case-by-case basis.

So What Do I Do?

The announcement by the DHS does not remove the requirement to review the documents. The Employer is still required to inspect the documents via video, fax, email, etc. and retain them. Employers should perform the following:

1. Remotely Verify Documents

Review Section 2 documents remotely via video, fax, email, etc. and retain them within 3 business days for the purposes of completing Section 2.

2. Once Normal Operations Resume

Within three business days of resumption of normal operations, all employees who were onboarded using remote verification of identity and employment verification must report to their employer for in-person verification.

  1. Physically inspect the documents. Then, add “documents physically examined” with the date of the inspection to the Section 2 additional information field on the Form I-9 or to section 3 as appropriate.
  2. Write “COVID-19” in Section 2 Additional Information as the reason for the physical inspection delay.

Employers who use this option must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee. This burden rests sole with the employers.

When is This Effective?

Employers may implement these provisions for a period of 60 days starting March 20, 2020 or within 3 business days after the termination termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first.

Contact MyHRConcierge for Help with COVID-19 Related HR Issues

For more information regarding HR policies during the COVID-19 crisis, COVID-19 support and information or other HR needs, contact MyHRConcierge at (855) 538-6947 x.108 or email ccooley@myhrconcierge.com.