Employers will no longer be allowed to review new hires’ Form I-9 identification documents remotely after July 31, and HR pros may need to take steps to ensure compliance with that sunset date.
The federal government temporarily gave employers permission to examine workers’ documents remotely in the early days of the country’s COVID-19 response, with the caveat that those IDs would need to be viewed in person later.
These upcoming shifts mean HR pros have several procedures they may need to revisit.
1. Address any backlog
Employers must physically inspect any documents reviewed remotely by Aug. 30, according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
HR has until that date “to perform all required physical examination of identity and employment eligibility documents for those individuals hired on or after March 20, 2020, and who have only received a virtual or remote examination under the flexibilities.”
If they haven’t already, employers should begin physically reinspecting those documents and annotating Form I-9s, attorneys from law firm Duane Morris recommended in a blog post for the firm. And HR should take care to ensure this process doesn’t introduce discrimination into the workplace, the attorneys added, recommending that employers standardize a process for this undertaking and implement it consistently for all affected employees.
2. Plan for in-person review
The end of remote review affects all employers, not just those with a physical workplace. Employers operating completely remotely also must soon conduct physical document reviews.
To fulfill that requirement for employees who aren’t geographically close to an HR rep, some employers allow a new hire’s family or friend to review the documents. Others rely on another nearby employee or contract with notaries or other local, third-party vendors.
And again, to avoid discrimination, employers should have a standardized process for inspection, recordkeeping and any other aspect of the procedure, experts previously told HR Dive.
3. Watch the regulatory landscape
After finding success with the remote review process, some employer representatives urged DHS to make the change permanent.
The agency moved to fulfill that request, proposing such a rule in August 2022. The public was invited to submit comments for several weeks, and now a final rule is in the works.
DHS’ most recent regulatory agenda had the final regulations slated for this month, but the agency on May 4 said it now expects to finalize a rule “later this year.”