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ICE Releases Guidance Relaxing I-9 Requirements For Certain Employers

The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued guidance that provides flexibility for certain employers to comply with Form I-9 requirements due to COVID-19.

Which employers does the new guidance apply to?

The relaxed requirements apply only to employers and workplaces operating remotely due to COVID-19. If there are employees physically present at a work locations, no exceptions will apply. However, if newly hired employees or existing employees are subject to COVID-19 quarantine or lockdown protocols, DHS will evaluate on a case-by-case basis.

What options does the new guidance offer?

This provision removes the requirement that employers review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence. However, the employer must:

  • Inspect Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax or email, etc.) within three business days of work for pay;
  • Retain copies of the documents;
  • Add “COVID-19” as the reason for physical inspection delay in the Section 2 field once physical inspection takes place after normal operations resume and add “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection in the Section 2 additional information field on the Form I-9 (or section 3 if applicable);
  • Conduct in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation within 3 business days of normal operation of business; and
  • Retain written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy with the Form I-9 for each employee.

Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security will allow employers to designate an authorized representative to act on their behalf to complete Section 2. An authorized representative can be any person the employer designates to complete and sign the Form I-9 on their behalf. The employer is liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations in connection with the form or verification process, including any violations of the employer sanctions laws committed by the person to act on the employer’s behalf.

When, and for how long, is the new guidance effective?

This updated guidance may be implemented for a period of 60 days, starting today, or within 3 business days after the termination of the National Emergency, whatever comes first.

Author

Betsy Stelle Morgan is the head of Baker McKenzie's Global Immigration and Mobility Practice. Her work has been published extensively in US and international publications. She is ranked as a leading lawyer in Who’s Who in American Women and Who’s Who in the World and has been listed in Chambers Global. She is the founder and co-editor of Baker McKenzie’s Global Immigration & Mobility Update, which currently boasts a quarterly circulation of approximately 16,000, and is also a co-author of the Firm’s US Business Immigration Manual. Ms. Morgan was a member of the Chicago Management Committee with responsibility for the office’s Marketing & Business Development, Social Responsibility, Pro Bono, Diversity and Alumni Relations Programs.

Author

Melissa Allchin is an Attorney in Baker McKenzie's Employment and Compensation Practice with more than eleven years of experience in corporate immigration law. She routinely advises multinational and domestic clients on the strategy, requirements, and procedures to secure visas and work and residence permits and satisfy employment eligibility and other immigration-related regulatory requirements for a global workforce. Melissa frequently speaks on global and US immigration and immigration compliance issues at Firm and client events geared towards global mobility, human resources, and legal professionals. She has been a Member of the Firm's Pro Bono and Diversity Committees.a

Author

Ginger Partee represents multinational companies engaged in the global movement of personnel. She has co-authored multiple chapters on US immigration law and policy for human resource and employment compliance manuals, and is editor of Baker & McKenzie’s US Business Immigration Manual. She is also actively involved in the Firm’s pro bono and community service programs.

Author

David M. Serwer represents and advises employers in legal matters related to the global transfer of personnel. He is a frequent speaker on topics relating to US immigration law and compliance, and has written numerous articles for US and international publications. Mr. Serwer is editor of the Firm’s Global Immigration & Mobility Update, and was co-author of the United States Business Immigration Manual. He is also actively engaged in pro bono legal work, managing and directing 2-3 naturalization clinics per year and represents 10-20 naturalization applications each year at naturalization hearings.