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Form I-9 Requirements Change Temporarily Due to COVID-19

On March 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security announced new flexibility in requirements to the document inspection procedures outlined in Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. These temporary changes are being implemented as a result of orders by federal agencies to maintain physical proximity distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We’ve put together some answers to frequently asked questions about the changes.

What has changed?

Beginning March 19, employers will NOT be required to verify a new employee’s physical identification documents in person.

However, employers must inspect documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax or email, etc.) and obtain copies of the documents within 3 business days.

How long are these changes in effect?

Until May 19, 2020, or until 3 business days after the termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first.

Who does this apply to?

  • This only applies to workplaces that are operating remotely. Employers who use this option must provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policies for each employee. 
  • If there are employees physically present at a work location, you must continue to examine the documents in-person as you normally would. One exception: If newly hired employees or existing employees are subject to COVID-19 quarantine or lockdown protocols, DHS will evaluate this on a case-by-case basis.

What happens after normal operations resume?

After normal operations resume, a physical inspection of the identification documents should take place. At that time, the employer should fill out Form I-9 as follows:

  • Add “documents physically examined” with the date of the inspection to the Section 2 Additional Information field or to Section 3 as appropriate. 
  • Enter  “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Section 2 Additional Information field.

Any audit of subsequent Forms I-9 would use the “in-person completed date” as a starting point for these employees only.

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