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Apr 8, 2020

USCIS Answers Common Questions about Form I-9S and E-Verify During the Pandemic

David Spaulding

Green and Spiegel has been communicating United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policy responses to the coronavirus pandemic as they have been released and we will continue to do so.  However, USCIS distilled that guidance down into a handy document on April 6, 2020 called “Questions and Answers Related to Temporary Policies for Form I-9 and E-Verify.” 

It can be found at USCIS’ I-9 Central site. To assist employers during the pandemic, we have restated the most common occurrences below.  Please note though that there is greater detail available at USCIS’ I-9 Central site and that Green and Spiegel has waived initial Form I-9 and E-Verify consult fees so please feel free to contact our Compliance and Regulatory Practice Director, David Spaulding at 484-645-4194 if you have any questions.

Regarding Form I-9 Requirements:

  • There is no change in the requirement that employees complete Section 1 of the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9).
  • There is no change in the requirements to complete a Form I-9 (Section 2) within 3 business days of the employee’s 1st day of employment.
  • If employees are physically present at the work location, the employer must still physically examine the documents for identity and work authorization and obtain a signature from the employee.
  • However, employers and workplaces that are operating remotely may follow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) news release that announced flexibility in requirements related to Form I-9.
  • If remotely verifying identification and work authorization, an employer must document this by annotating Additional Information in Section 2 of the Form I-9 with the note “COVID-19”, document that the Form I-9 verification was done remotely and will have to be done again once the crisis has passed, and contain a signature and date.
  • As always, an employer may designate an authorized representative to complete the Form I-9 on their behalf.(This can be tricky and requires a deliberate approach.)
  • If the state which issued the identification document has established an automatic extension due to the pandemic AND the identification expired after March 1, 2020, it is an acceptable List B document for Form I-9 identification purposes.NOTE:Enter “COVID-19 EXT” in the Additional Information Field of Section 2 of the Form I-9 and attach a printout of the state’s automatic extension notification to the Form I-9.
  • These rules are temporary.DHS expects to reinstate the standard requirements as soon as the pandemic abates.

Regarding E-Verify Requirements

  • Remote inspection of documents for the underlying Form I-9 process is as stated above.However, after that process, they should follow current guidance to create the E-Verify case.
  • If the case creation is delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, go to the drop-down list and select “Other” to explain the delay and enter “COVID-19” as the reason.

NOTE:  There are many details not restated here and the original document is a fairly helpful reference.

Green and Spiegel’s Compliance and Regulatory Practice is ideally positioned to support employers in Form I-9 and E-Verify issues.  Please contact us if we can be of any assistance. (David Spaulding is working remotely on many days each week and can be reached at 484-645-4194 or dspaulding@gands-us.com)

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