Question: We hired an employee a few months ago who has been working remotely during the pandemic. Our HR manager remotely inspected the Form I-9 verification documents at the time of hire. The employee will now be reporting to a physical location and the onsite manager will be inspecting the Form I-9 verification documents in-person. Do we need to follow any special procedures in this circumstance?
Answer: Yes, if two different people inspect the employment verification documents, then you need to complete a new Section 2 of the Form I-9 when the documents are physically inspected. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently released new guidance that outlines what procedure to follow. Remember that remote inspection of the Form I-9 documents is only allowed under a temporary rule during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. The rule was first issued in March 2020, with several extensions having been issued since then. The temporary rule is currently set to expire on November 19, 2020, although it may once again be extended. In practical terms, the new guidance means you will have two multiple page Form I-9 records for this employee. On the original Form I-9, you’ll write “COVID-19” in the “Additional Information Box” in Section 2, reflecting that the HR manager remotely viewed the verification documents within three business days of the employee’s first day of work. You’ll then fill out a new Section 2 within three business days of the employee physically reporting to the worksite. On the second Section 2, the onsite manager will fully fill out the form again and write “documents physically examined” in the “Additional Information Box,” reflecting that he or she physically inspected the verification documents. These records must be kept together and retained under the normal record retention guidelines for Form I-9s.
Don’t forget that you have to physically inspect all I-9 documents that were remotely inspected once you are able to do so, using the process outlined above. If you’re completing the Form I-9 remotely during the pandemic and want to discuss how best to fulfill your Form I-9 obligations, contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney.