In light of all the shutdowns due to COVID-19,
employers who are taking physical proximity precautions, now do not need to
review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the
employee’s physical presence for the I-9 Form. This announcement was made by
U.S. Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement (ICE) on March 20th, 2020.
Under this new system, employers are first to
inspect the Section 2 documents remotely (using video, fax, or email), and
“obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents, within three business
days for purposes of completing Section 2”, according to ICE. Once normal
operations resume, employers must inspect documents in person, and then note
“COVID-19” as the reason for the delay under the “additional information”
field, as well as the “documents physically examined” field, with the date of
inspection to that field or Section 3 as appropriate.
These provisions may be implemented by employers
for a 60-day period, beginning from the date of the notice, or within 3
business days after the termination of the National Emergency (whichever comes
first). Further, employers making use of this exception are required to provide
written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each
employee. It is important to note that this exception is only available to
employers operating remotely.
“If there are employees physically present at the work
location, no exceptions are being implemented at this time. However, if newly
hired employees or existing employees are subject to COVID-19 quarantine or
lockdown protocols, DHS will evaluate this on a case-by-case basis”
Some options do still exist for employers not
eligible for this exception. The form allows an employer to appoint a
representative to review new hires’ documents. This could be a law firm, a
vendor, notary, or local employee, among others. Any employee can perform
document inspection for HR. During normal times, this would not be a best
practice, however, in exigent times, such as this, employers can provide
training inside, and outside the company.