Days before the upcoming deadline, ICE has announced it is extending the remote virtual verification option for completion of I-9 employment verification an additional 60 days (instead of just 30 days), until November 19, 2020, due to continued precautions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pursuant to the original guidelines for virtual verification, eligible employers may continue to inspect Section 2 documents without an actual in-person physical inspection (e.g., over video link, fax, or email). As before, the policy applies only to employers and workplaces that are in fact operating remotely. The latest announcement states that if any employees are physically present at the worksite, in-person physical inspection of the I-9 documentation must occur. In past announcements, however, ICE has indicated that it would use a case-by-case analysis to determine if the virtual I-9 review was reasonable. How and whether ICE will be reasonable is yet to be seen. Rather than using virtual inspection, employers still have the option of using agents or authorized representatives to review I-9 documentation at remote locations.
Keep in mind that all employees who were onboarded virtually must report within three business days for in-person verification once the employer’s normal operations resume. This date may be different (earlier or later) from the date the government policy ends.
Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist you in creating “best practices” regarding I-9 compliance and preparing for possible upcoming investigations and audits.