Employers with workplaces that are operating remotely because of COVID-19 do not have to conduct an in-person I-9 review of identity and work authorization documents through Jan. 31.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has permitted an extension in the rules related to I-9 compliance several times since the pandemic began in March 2020. The last extension had been due to expire Dec. 31.
This flexibility only applies only to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. If there are employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions to the in-person document review are permitted, according to ICE.
According to HR Dive, employers who are ineligible for the exception still have options. The form allows an employer to appoint a representative to review new hires’ documents. This can be a law firm, a vendor, a notary, or a local employee, among others.
Any employee can perform document inspection for HR, according to Susan Cohen, founding chair of Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo’s immigration practice. During normal times, that’s not a best practice but “in exigent times like these, employers can provide training inside and outside the company,“ she said.
Going forward, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will monitor the ongoing national pandemic and provide updated guidance as needed. Employers are required to monitor the DHS and ICE websites for updates on when the extensions will be terminated, and normal operations will resume.