- The federal government wants to hear about employers' experiences with temporary permission to review Form I-9 documents remotely, it announced Oct. 26.
- The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services prompted employers to comment on several elements of remote I-9 procedures, including their experience with: internal and external technical interface; employee-provided images; apparently false documents; and challenges with the E-Verify program.
- The comment period will end Dec. 27.
Employers have long been required to inspect passports, green cards and other documents to confirm that new hires are allowed to work in the U.S.
Mass transitions to remote work necessitated by the pandemic complicated that requirement, but USCIS was quick to come up with a workaround. COVID-19 was declared a national emergency March 13, 2020. Seven days later, the agency announced it would permit employers with pandemic restrictions to examine employees' identity and eligibility documents via video, fax, email or other digital means.
USCIS stipulated that employers would need to "obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents" they reviewed remotely within the three business days following the end of the national emergencies. The agency has extended the remote-review permissions many times — its most recent update came Aug. 31, when it re-upped the flexibilities until Dec. 31.
Some are advocating for USCIS to make the change a lasting one. In July, the Society for Human Resource Management asked the federal government to permanently allow employers to remotely review employee documents.
SHRM said HR professionals anticipate challenges with the current I-9 guidance as they carry on with flexible work arrangements. The group also asked the government to consider combining Form I-9 and E-Verify into one process.