ICE Ends Form I-9 Virtual Remote Inspection – Employers Must Complete Corrections This Summer
ICE has set a short timeline for employers to physically inspect workers’ employment authorization documents and correct Form-I-9s completed using the virtual remote flexibilities offered due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Here’s what you need to know.
This article was originally published in Forbes on May 4, 2023.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced that employers must correct Form-I-9s completed using the virtual remote flexibilities offered due to the Covid-19 pandemic by August 30, 2023. Employers must quickly arrange in-person meetings with workers whose I-9 documents were inspected virtually throughout the pandemic and make corrections as applicable.
Guidance provided by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) temporarily permitted employers whose entire U.S. workforce was operating remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic to virtually obtain and inspect a new hire’s employment authorization documents; previously, those documents would have been physically inspected in person. Virtual verification included review via video call, web-based video conferencing, fax, and email. Employment authorization documents must be virtually obtained and verified within three days of the new hire’s first date of employment. The March 2020 announcement stated that employers could defer the physical examination of employees’ documents and conduct remote inspections instead, entering the reason for the delay on Form I-9 as “COVID-19.”
Those virtual remote flexibilities expire on July 31, 2023, with ICE offering a 30-day grace period to physically inspect workers’ documents and correct all impacted Form I-9s. As a result, employers should develop plans to identify affected workers whose employment authorization documents were reviewed virtually, communicate with those workers, and prepare them to physically present their employment authorization documents, schedule in-person meetings and correct Form I-9s. Upon physically examining a worker’s documents, the employer would note “documents physically examined” with the examination date in Section 2 or Section 3 of the corrected Form I-9, as appropriate.
Employers are encouraged to act swiftly to correct impacted I-9s and comply by August 30, 2023. While ICE permits employers to fix minor technical or procedural violations, if those violations go uncorrected or are numerous, employers may be subject to civil fines, criminal penalties, debarment from government contracts, and specific court orders. Monetary penalties range from $573 to $20,130 per violation for knowingly hiring and continuing to employ unauthorized individuals to $230 to $2,292 per violation for technical or substantive issues, including failing to produce a Form I-9. Further, employers may consider using an electronic solution to help manage the completion and storage of Form I-9.
Release Date: May 11, 2023
Alonzo Martinez is Associate General Counsel at HireRight. Mr. Martinez is responsible for monitoring and advising on key legislative and regulatory developments globally affecting HireRight’s service delivery. His work is focused on ensuring HireRight’s performance as a consumer reporting agency and data processor complies with relevant legal, regulatory, and data furnisher requirements. Mr. Martinez obtained his Juris Doctorate from the University of Colorado, and is licensed by the Supreme Court of the State of Colorado. He is a member of the Colorado Bar Association Employment Law Division, the Association of Corporate Counsel, and the Professional Background Screening Association.