All employers must use Form I-9 to verify the identity and employment authorization of their employees. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers had to physically inspect employees’ I-9 documents. During the pandemic, temporary COVID-19 flexibilities were introduced allowing employers to remotely inspect I-9 documents. However, this came to an end on July 31, 2023 giving employers until August 30, 2023 to physically inspect I-9 documents that had been remotely reviewed between March 20, 2020 and July 31, 2023.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently announced that a new version of Form I-9 has been released, dated August 1, 2023, which provides flexibility to remotely verify I-9 documents for qualified employers. Employers may begin using the new edition of Form I-9 on August 1, 2023. Starting on November 1, 2023, only the new edition will be accepted.
The new version of Form I-9 is shorter than the previous version. It also allows employers the flexibility to examine employees’ Form I-9 documents remotely as long as the employer is enrolled in E-Verify and in good standing. Qualified employers can remotely inspect I-9 documents for new hires as well as for reverification of existing employees. This is referred to as the “alternative procedure”.
After August 1, 2023, if employers are not enrolled in E-Verify and in good standing, or if they choose not to use the alternative procedure for verification of I-9 documents, they must revert to physically verifying I-9 documentation.
Qualified employers are not required to use the alternative procedure and may continue to verify I-9 documentation in person. If a qualified employer opts to use the alternative procedure for employees at an E-Verify hiring site, the employer must use the alternative procedure for all employees at that site. Otherwise, it may use the alternative procedure for remote hires only, continuing to physically verify documents for on-site or hybrid employees. No matter the approach, employers must be consistent.
We view this as a welcome change for many employers who hire remote workers and one that reflects the current hiring practices in a post-COVID-19 world.