Designate representative to review remote employee’s I-9 documents
Question: We hired a remote worker and don’t have someone to review I-9 documents or complete the form in person; what should we do?
Answer: Delegate the task.
Remember that employees must complete section 1 of the I-9 form by their first day of work, while employers must complete section 2 of the form and verify a new employee's documents within three business days of starting employment. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states an employer’s responsibility when completing section 2 of the I-9 form is to “[p]hysically examine each document to determine if it reasonably appears to be genuine and to relate to your employee presenting it.” You may not accept a photocopy of any document presented. There’s no direct guidance on whether viewing documents via Skype or other video conferencing would meet the requirements, but the best practice is always to have someone physically review the documents in person.
One solution is to send an HR specialist or other employee to complete the Form I-9 face-to-face with your new hire, but that can be expensive and inefficient. A good alternative is to find a trusted local person who can do this work on your behalf. For example, you could hire an HR consultant in the area to do this for you. In any event, when you delegate this task to someone else, your organization will be on the hook if it is done improperly, so be picky in choosing who will do this for you. Finally, if your regular practice is to retain copies of the supporting documentation, then make sure your designee does this and sends those to you.
Also, make sure you are asking for the proper documentation to complete the I-9 for both US Citizens and non-citizens alike. For more questions and answers about the I-9 verification process, check out the USCIS “Handbook for Employers” and the agency’s Q&A webpage, our additional hiring blogs, or contact your Vigilant employment attorney.