When does I-9 flexibility end?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have previously extended the end date for the COVID-related Form I-9 verification flexibility to July 31, 2023. Given the number of times this deadline had been extended, it seemed possible, though not probable, that it would be extended yet again. However, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has recently announced that the deadline is firm, and employers that were taking advantage of the COVID-19-related flexibility will have until August 30, 2023, to do in-person verifications of employment documents that were only inspected virtually.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has provided a very useful FAQ as well as instructions on how to notate the Form I-9 when inspected in-person after originally being inspected virtually.
What businesses should do?
If you haven’t kept a list of those employees whose documents were inspected virtually, pull that information together and determine who will serve as your authorized representative to inspect the documents in-person.
Once you know whose documents need to be inspected and their work location, you may be able to save both time and money on travel with a bit of strategy. You can have different authorized representatives for different regions. This job can be assigned to anyone you’d trust with a sensitive task. Given that employers are liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, you should choose someone who can pay attention to detail and train them on exactly how you want the verification done. You can also outsource the role of authorized representative to a law firm, notary, or someone else who can legally offer this service.
Finally, consider having someone from your HR team remotely oversee the in-person inspection (via phone call, video, or messaging app) to ensure a consistent process is followed as well as to be available to address any questions or concerns from the employee or person acting as the authorized representative.