During the pandemic, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) relaxed the procedures for collecting the employee identification documents necessary to complete I-9 Forms.
Understandably, some flexibility was necessary as employers were exercising precautions related to physical proximity and in-person meetings. During that time, DHS allowed employers to inspect I-9 identity documents remotely (such as through video link, fax or email) in lieu of performing a physical inspection.
However, employers who utilized this option are now facing a new dilemma because physical inspection is still a requirement.
Once a business resumes normal operations and the remote verification option is discontinued, DHS expects employees who were onboarded using remote verification to report to their employer within three business days for in-person verification of their documents. The employer will then need to amend the notes on the I-9 form to say, “Documents physically examined.”
This requirement has significant ramifications for employers who ramped up their workforce by hiring employees in remote locations. How will employees in other states fulfill the obligation of reporting in person for physical inspection of their documents?
Here are some steps you can take to avoid or mitigate a logistical nightmare:
- Stop using the remote verification option, even if it’s still available. Don’t add more people to the roster of those you will need to physically meet with later.
- Consider regional resources within your company. Perhaps a district manager or an authorized representative from another office location can meet with a remote employee and inspect their documents.
- Investigate third-party services who can perform the physical inspection of documents for you if you need to verify a remote employee. Equifax is one company who offers a nationwide network of authorized I-9 representatives, but there are a number of companies offering this type of service.
If you have questions about your onboarding procedures and compliance with federal laws, please reach out to MarathonHR for advice.