COVID-19 News from the Department of Homeland Security

In case you are in the group of a lucky few that are still hiring (or if you’re in Ohio or Pennsylvania and are still allowed to keep your doors open) during this crazy time, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has some great news for you! No, the shelter-in-place orders are not lifted. Their news has to do with the one thing we all love to hate … paperwork.

On March 20, 2020, the DHS announced that it is deferring the physical presence requirements associated with Form I-9 for employers and workplaces that are operating remotely due to COVID-19. Specifically, employers with employees that are taking precautions due to COVID-19 will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s physical presence. This deferment does not apply if there are employees physically present at a work location.

If employers opt to utilize this deferment, the employer must:

  1. Provide written documentation of their remote onboarding and telework policy for each employee
  2. Inspect the Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax or email, etc.)
  3. Obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents within three business days
  4. Enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Section 2 Additional Information field of Form I-9 once physical inspection takes place after normal operations resume
  5. Once physically inspected, add “documents physically examined” with the date of inspection in the Section 2 Additional Information field, or Section 3 where appropriate

It is important to note that once normal operations resume, employees who were on-boarded using this remote verification must report to their employer within three business days for in-person verification of their identity and employment eligibility documentation. This deferment will be in effect for 60 days starting March 20 or until three business days after the termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first.

For more information about this announcement, information on how to draft a your policy, or how this announcement impacts your business, reach out to your local L&E attorney.

Stay home (if you can), stay safe, and stay healthy!

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