Businesses will be able to get new hires on the payroll more quickly, now that inspecting Form I-9 documents remotely has been given the green light.
The new procedure took effect August 1, 2023.
You may recall that during the pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) offered temporary flexibility to employers, allowing virtual inspection under certain circumstances. The end date for that flexibility? August 30, 2023.
Now, remote review is a permanent option. But of course, there are t’s to cross and i’s to dot, as spelled out in the procedure DHS published in the Federal Register on July 25, 2023.
Here are the details:
Electronic examination of Form I-9
First, it’s important to note that only businesses participating in E-Verify can utilize the alternative procedure.
Also worth noting: There are no changes to the long-standing regulations that say employers have to examine Form I-9 documents submitted by a new hire within three business days of that person’s first day of employment.
However, DHS has amended the regs to provide ongoing flexibility with physical review. To use remote inspection, in addition to being enrolled in E-Verify, DHS says businesses would:
- conduct a live video call with the employee to electronically examine that person’s I-9 documents (and then retain clear and legible copies of those documents), and
- create an E-Verify case if the employee is a new hire.
On Form I-9, employers will need to annotate that they remotely inspected an employee’s documents.
The process for doing that varies depending on what version of the form you have. As the first step, check the bottom left of the form.
If the date says “10/21/19,” you have the old version. If the date says “08/01/23,” that’s the new version.
The next step is to:
- write “Alternative Procedure” in the Additional Information field of the old form, or
- put a check mark in the box found in the Additional Information field of the new form (to indicate use of an alternative procedure).
According to the Federal Register information, an employer can decide to offer the alternative procedure for remote hires only, while continuing to do physical inspections for on-site and hybrid employees.
And bear this in mind: Even if a business would like employees to use the remote option, it can’t force them to do so.