I-9 filing flexibility has been extended – again – through October 31, 2022.
Since March 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have allowed flexibility in the remote filing of I-9 forms.
Current guidance on I-9 filing
The guidance was announced in response to the COVID pandemic and an increase in remote work. If workers are working remotely, employers can delay the physical inspection of Employment Eligibility Verification documents. They are still required to “obtain, inspect and retain” copies of documents within three business days, as well as “provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and remote work policy on the employee’s Form I-9.” Virtual ID inspections can include a video link or an image through fax or email.
One temporary policy that was put in place is ending, however: If an employer accepted expired documents in list B for the I-9 form, they have until July 31, 2022, to get updated documents.
Initially, the I-9 flexibility guidance only applied to employers whose entire workforce was working remotely. However, in April 2021, the guidance was expanded to anyone who hired employers remotely due to COVID-19. No exceptions have been made for those who are reporting for in-person work.
Future I-9 guidance
This guidance will continue, according to DHS, until employees “undertake non-remote employment on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier.”
The updated guidance also continues to encourage beginning in-person verification for employees hired after March 20, 2020, at the employer’s discretion. When employees return to in-office work, documentation and identification should be physically inspected within three business days of returning to their work location.
Although the guidance has been extended until October, the DHS sought public input late last year and is seeking a second round of public input “to explore alternative options to physical document examination,” hinting that permanent remote I-9 options may be on the way. However, no official permanent guidance has been set yet.