On May 4, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that the temporary I-9 accommodations put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic will expire on July 31. First announced in March 2020, DHS/ICE temporarily allowed certain qualifying employers to review I-9 documentation electronically rather than in person for employees who worked remotely. Employers who relied on this temporary accommodation were required to then meet with the new employees and inspect their identity and work authorization documents in person within three business days once normal business operations resumed and employees returned to work in person. In October 2022, DHS/ICE extended the flexibilities until July 31, 2023.

After July 31, employers may no longer review I-9 documentation electronically or remotely. Instead, effective August 1, all employers must return to pre-COVID standard procedures:

(1) All new hires must complete and sign Section 1 of the I-9 no later than their first day of employment.

(2) The employer’s representative must meet with the employee, review the employee’s identity and work authorization documents that the employee presents in person, and complete, sign, and date Section 2 of the I-9 no later than the third day of employment.

Further, any employer who relied on the COVID-19 accommodation must meet with any affected employee in person, review the employee’s documentation, and update the I-9 no later than August 30, 2023. Once the employee’s documents are physically examined, the employer should update the I-9 by adding “documents physically examined” with the date of examination to the Section 2 “Additional Information” field on the I-9, or in Section 3 if appropriate.

Please note: Although DHS recently issued a proposed rule that would allow alternative (electronic, remote, etc.) procedures for the examination of identity and employment authorization documents, a final rule has not yet been published and is not in effect. Therefore all employers should continue to comply with the long-standing requirement that they review documentation and sign the I-9 in person until DHS announces a change in policy.

With the COVID-19 public health emergency formally declared over and most employees back at the workplace, now is a great time to review your company’s I-9s and ensure they are in order.

This article summarizes aspects of the law and does not constitute legal advice. For legal advice for your situation, you should contact an attorney.

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