U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced an extension of flexibilities for remote workers related to Form I-9, Employment Authorization Verification. The flexibilities initially ran from March 19, 2020, and were set to expire May 19. Due to continued precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the policy for an additional 30 days. DHS is exercising its prosecutorial discretion to defer the physical presence requirements associated with the I-9 verification process.
This provision applies only to employers and workplaces operating remotely. There are no exceptions for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for employees who are physically present at a work location.
ICE also noted that employers who were served Notices of Inspection by ICE during March 2020 and had not already responded were granted an automatic extension for 60 days from the effective date. ICE said it will grant an additional 30-day extension to these employers.
Also, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that employers should now be using the new I-9 form for new employees. They do not need to re-do the form for existing employees. The old form was no longer accepted as of April 30, 2020. The new version has a revision date of 10/21/2019 and expires 10/31/2022.
Other than the relaxation of the physical presence requirements for employees working remotely, as always, it is important to follow all the rules and make sure documentation is complete, without asking employees for more or different documents than required or discriminating on the basis of national origin.
Employers are required to monitor the DHS and ICE websites for additional updates regarding when the extension will be terminated and normal operations will resume.
- “ICE Announces Extension of Flexibility in Rules Related to Form I-9 Compliance,” May 14, 2020, https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/ice-announces-extension-flexibility-rules-related-form-i-9-compliance
- “DHS Announces Flexibility in Requirements Related to Form I-9 Compliance,” March 20, 2020, https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/dhs-announces-flexibility-requirements-related-form-i-9-compliance
- Related WR blogs:
- “Form I-9 Announcement: COVID-19 Temporary Policy for List B Identity Documents,” https://wolfsdorf.com/blog/2020/05/04/form-i-9-announcement-covid-19-temporary-policy-for-list-b-identity-documents/
- “DHS Announces Flexibility in Requirements Related to Form I-9 Compliance,” https://wolfsdorf.com/blog/2020/03/20/dhs-announces-flexibility-in-requirements-related-to-form-i-9-compliance/
- “I-9 Compliance During the COVID-19 Crisis,” https://wolfsdorf.com/blog/2020/03/18/i-9-compliance-during-the-covid-19-crisis/
- “Time to Start Using New I-9 Employment Verification Form,” https://wolfsdorf.com/blog/2020/02/03/time-to-start-using-new-i-9-employment-verification-form/
- New I-9 form, https://www.uscis.gov/i-9
Contact your WR attorney for advice in specific situations.