Hiring managers are probably all aware of the I-9 requirements when bringing on a new employee. Before the pandemic, employers were required to physically verify employees' identification documents in person, whether a passport, driver's license or other ID. However, with many offices operating completely remote there isn't a way to currently verify these documents firsthand. For these fully remote workplaces, we recommend verifying your I-9 documents virtually.
How can you verify I-9 documents virtually? Our recommendation is to first view the documents via video call. Ask the new hire to ensure a well-lit room and that the documents are clearly visible. Then have the employee scan the document and share it via email. This task still must be completed within three days of the employee's start date.
The ICE.gov website advises, “Employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions due to COVID-19 will not be required to review the employee's identity and employment authorization documents in the employee's physical presence." This extension will continue through March 31, 2021.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) shared the deferral the physical presence requirements associated with reviewing Form I-9 documents is only available for employers and workplaces operating remotely only." So viewing the I-9 documents digitally is only an option for offices operating 100% remote, meaning the office doors are locked and no employees are ever onsite. The physical documentation review requirements will not be excused if any employees are physically present at a work location.
DHS continues, "Employers who avail themselves of this option must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee. This burden rests solely with the employers."
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. 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 on the Form I-9, or to section 3 as appropriate.
So don't forget that while you may virtually approve the documents for now, you will eventually have to physically inspect them in person and submit the inspection date.
Is your office still remote? What other processes has your organization developed while onboarding employees virtually? Please share below.