The federal Department of Homeland Security has announced another extension of its temporarily relaxed standard regarding physical inspection of a new worker's employment eligibility documents when completing the Form I-9. This is the second 30-day extension of the relaxed standard, with the new expiration now July 19, 2020. As we previously reported, Homeland Security relaxed the requirement for employers that are operating remotely and therefore unable to physically inspect documents during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) national emergency.
Tips: During the pandemic, you'll still need to complete the Form I-9 process within the usual time frame (generally no later than the third business day after a new hire begins working). However, if employees responsible for handling the I-9 process are working from home, they may remotely visually inspect the documents that verify identity and employment eligibility via video link, fax, email, or other digital means. For new hires, write “COVID-19” in the “Additional Information” box in Section 2 on the form; for current employees whose documentation needs to be reverified, write “COVID-19” in the space along the side of Section 3 of the form.
Remember to notify employees in writing (at the time you remotely inspect their documents) that they'll be required to physically produce the documents once normal business operations resume. You must physically inspect those documents and update the Form I-9 accordingly, within three business days of when you resume operations. See our original article on this topic for detailed instructions about remote inspection of Form I-9 documentation.