As we explained on May 4 and March 12, the Department of Homeland Security has relaxed normal in-person verification requirements for Form I-9 during the pandemic.

On July 18, Immigration & Customs Enforcement extended those relaxed rules to August 19, 2020.  Employers may continue verifying identity and employment eligibility documents remotely, such as by video link, fax or email, until and unless normal business operations have resumed at that specific work site.  Within 3 business days after normal operations resume, employers must physically inspect the documents in the employee’s presence and annotate Forms I-9 according to ICE’s prior instructions.

ICE still has not clarified what “normal operations” means and, in fact, has said that “if there are employees physically present at a work location,” the relaxed rules do not apply.  Because many workplaces are operating in hybrid mode, with employees working both remotely and physically, employers may wish to use authorized representatives to verify or reverify documents in person with employees.  This option is always available to employers and is not an accommodation due to COVID-19.

Employers should consult competent immigration counsel for guidance on proper handling of Forms I-9 in their specific circumstances.