Due to precautions taken by employers and employees related to COVID-19, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced back in March 2020 that it would provide flexibility to the physical requirements associated with the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) under Section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Previously, employers were required to examine an employee’s identity and employment authorization documents while in the employee’s presence. However, this new exemption to the rule allowed for employers to inspect and verify their employee’s identity remotely via video link, fax, email, etc. in order to limit physical contact during the pandemic.
Since then this leniency has been extended several times throughout 2020 and 2021. The last extension was announced on December 15, 2021 and stated that the flexibilities will come to an end on April 30, 2022 for all employees, except those hired after April 1, 2021 who work exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19 precautions. They will remain temporarily exempt from the physical inspection requirements until they begin working non-remotely.
The DHS also announced the end of a separate temporary rule allowing employers to use expired employee identity authorization documents for Form I-9 compliance. Expired documents that seemed to be genuine and from the employee presenting them were allowable during the peak of the pandemic. Starting May 1, 2022 employers will again be required to obtain valid documentation from employees when completing Form I-9s. If employers accepted expired identity documents during the timeframe of this temporary rule (May 1, 2020 – April 30, 2022) they will have until July 31, 2022 to update their active employees’ Form I-9s with acceptable, unexpired documentation.
Every organization should ensure it is prepared to comply with the end of these exemptions/rules. If you have questions or need assistance reviewing your I-9 verification process, feel free to contact the HR team at Applied at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 904-677-5400.