REQUIREMENTS TO ACCOMMODATE COVID-19
On March 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced that it would temporarily revise the requirements for reviewing documents presented in the Form I-9 process to accommodate employers whose HR departments are now working remotely. The revised requirements allow the Form I-9 document review to temporarily be done remotely. The official announcement from the DHS can be found at the following link:
The revised rules allow for HR departments that are working remotely to review documents presented in the Form I-9 process via Skype, Facetime, email, fax or similar means. If the employer does this, they must write “COVID-19” in the “Additional Information” box in Section 2. Within 3 days of the employer resuming normal operations, the original documents must be reviewed by HR and then “documents physically examined” with the date should be noted in the “Additional Information” box. Thus, in order to remain compliant, it will be important for employers to set up a procedure for keeping track of the Forms I-9 where documents were reviewed remotely, so that inspection of the original documents can take place at the appropriate time. A memo should also be prepared indicating the date that normal operations were resumed, so that it can be produced in the event of an I-9 audit by Immigration, to demonstrate that the original documents were reviewed within 3 days of that date.
It is important that employers note the following:
- These revised requirements only apply to employers whose HR departments are now working remotely. If you still have someone with HR physically working at your office, then you must continue to review the original documents presented in the Form I-9 process when the Form I-9 is completed.
- These revised requirements do not apply to a new hire who will permanently work remotely and will not be physically present at the employer’s worksite when the COVID-19 work restrictions end. In these cases, the employer must make arrangements to have Section 2 of the Form I-9 completed remotely.
- None of the time requirements for the Form I-9 have been relaxed. Section 1 still must be completed on or before the first day of work for pay and Section 2 must be completed on or before the third day of work for pay.
These flexible document review requirements are valid for 60 days or until 3 days after the National Emergency is terminated, whichever is earlier. If the flexible review requirements need to be extended, DHS will make an announcement at the appropriate time.
Since legal developments pertaining to COVID-19 are constantly evolving, we recommend that our clients call the Kullman Firm attorney(s) with whom they work for the most current guidance on these matters.