The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) introduced temporary flexibility procedures to defer physical inspection of documents for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, during the pandemic. These flexibility procedures have been extended many times since. Recently, the DHS announced that these procedures will remain in effect until December 31, 2021. In addition to this, the DHS also expanded the circumstances under which the employers can rely on these procedures to complete Form I-9.
What Is the I-9 Temporary Flexibility Procedure?
Since the pandemic forced US employers to operate remotely, the DHS first introduced these measures in March 2020 to allow them to complete Form I-9 without physical inspection. Before these procedures, to complete Form I-9, the employer was required to meet the new employee in person for verification. During this meeting, the employer was required to inspect the documents presented by the employee to confirm their identity and employment authorization. These documents must be inspected within 3 business days or in case of verification, before the expiration date of the initial employment authorization.
Due to the pandemic, employers were unable to meet in person to inspect these documents. Therefore the flexibility procedures introduced by the DHS allow qualifying employers to conduct a virtual review of the documents or temporarily defer the inspection of these documents. US employers can add “Covid-19: Remote inspection completed on mm/dd/yyyy” under the “Additional Information” field on the Form I-9.
US employers will be required to conduct a physical document inspection within 3 business days if:
- Their business returns to normal operations
- The DHS terminates the temporary flexibility procedures
US employers can add “Covid-19: Documents physically examined on mm/dd/yyyy” in the Additional Information section on the Form I-9.