The Department of Homeland Security has again extended its temporary relaxation of the standards for physically inspecting a new worker’s employment eligibility documents when completing the Form I-9. This is the sixth extension of the relaxed standard, which will now expire on December 31, 2020. As we originally reported, Homeland Security relaxed the requirement for employers operating completely remotely who are unable to physically inspect documents during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) national emergency. This exception doesn’t apply if any employees are physically present at a work location.
Tips: The temporary relaxation doesn’t change your basic duty 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, any employees responsible for reviewing I-9 documents who are working remotely may visually inspect 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. Within three business days of allowing employees to return to the worksite, you'll need to physically inspect the actual documents and update the Form I-9 accordingly.