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In brief

Many employers have chosen dates in the fall for their official office reopenings and have spent many months considering all the complicated factors involved in the post-pandemic workplace.

One time-sensitive topic that may have been overlooked is Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification compliance in the context of office reopening.

While U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has allowed some flexibility for U.S. employers over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the relaxed rules will no longer apply once employees are routinely and predictably in the office. Without this flexibility, employers must act quickly to (1) update I-9s completed during the pandemic pursuant to ICE’s flexible rules, and (2) put in place or refresh protocols for I-9 completion and maintenance in a workplace that is always changing with shifting post-pandemic norms.

The issuance of post-pandemic I-9 compliance is time sensitive and the failure to act timely will result in higher risk of fines during an investigation. For many employers, this will be a time-consuming and overwhelming task in light of the moving parts and other elements of office reopening. As a result, planning now to ensure I-9 compliance is an absolute necessity.

In this article, we will provide an overview of I-9 requirements and ICE’s I-9 flexibility relating to COVID-19, and propose five steps that all employers should take in advance of office reopening.

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* Original article published in Law360.


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.


Matthew Gorman is an associate in the Global Immigration & Mobility practice of Baker McKenzie's Chicago office. Matthew advises on corporate and employment-based immigration law, including work visa petitions, permanent residence and permanent employment certification applications. He also advises on issues of admissibility, waivers and motions to reopen/reconsider. Matthew represents pro bono clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in matters relating to naturalization, appeals and VAWA.

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