The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced a new version of Form I-9 and a final ruling on a new alternative procedure allowing for remote Form I-9 inspection. The new optional procedure will be available beginning August 1, 2023.
During COVID, flexibilities were implemented, allowing employers to conduct remote I-9 verification. With this exception expiring on July 31, 2023, the new rule comes just in time.
Here’s a quick breakdown of everything you need to know about the new Form I-9 alternative procedure.
Who is eligible to use the I-9 Alternative Procedure?
Only employers in good standing in E-Verify are qualified to use the new remote procedure. Once enrolled in E-Verify, you’ll have to create a case for all newly hired employees at each hiring site enrolled in E-Verify. This applies whether or not you use the alternative procedure.
How do employers conduct document verification?
- The employee must transmit a copy of the document(s) to the employer, ensuring it includes both front and back.
- You (or an authorized representative acting on your behalf, like a third-party vendor) must review the complete copy of the Form I-9.
- Conduct a live video meeting with the employee, during which they must present the same document(s) to ensure it appears genuine and accurately represents the individual.
- Complete the corresponding box on the Form I-9 indicating that an alternative procedure was used to examine it to complete Section 2 or for re-verification.
- Retain a clear, legible copy of all documents (both sides, if it’s two-sided) presented by the employee.
- If you are subject to a federal I-9 audit or investigation, you must make clear, legible copies of all identity and employment authorization documentation available for examination.
Once you complete this process, E-Verify will electronically compare the information you’ve entered from the employee’s I-9 to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) records to validate their documents and identity.
What version of Form I-9 should I use?
The updated Form I-9 is available as of August 1, 2023, and includes a checkbox where employers can indicate they examined the document remotely under the authorized alternative procedure.
You may continue to use the 10/21/2019 version of the I-9 through October 31, 2023. If you use this version during the grace period, you must indicate that you used the alternative procedure by writing “alternative procedure” in the Additional Information field in Section 2.
Be sure to start using the new version of Form I-9 as of November 1, 2023!
What if I used the COVID Form I-9 flexibilities?
As long as you have met the conditions, you have nothing to worry about and won’t be required to physically inspect the documentation of those you hired under the flexibilities. That means as long as you:
- Were enrolled in E-Verify at the time of hire
- Created an E-Verify case for relevant employees
- Performed the remote inspection between March 20, 2020, and July 31, 2023
Then you’re in the clear!
However, if you don’t meet all of these requirements, you’ll have to physically inspect the Forms I-9 of each hire before August 30.
Do I HAVE to offer the alternative procedure?
No, it’s completely optional. But whether you do or don’t offer it, you must do so consistently for all employees at each worksite to avoid discrimination.
For example, you can offer the alternative procedure exclusively for remote hires but still require the physical examination process for onsite or hybrid employees. However, you can’t do this for discriminatory purposes or treat employees differently based on their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin.
What if an employee requests physical document examination?
You must permit employees who cannot or refuse to submit documentation remotely to submit their I-9s for physical verification. You may not refuse to do so if the employee requests it.
Stay Up on the Latest Documentation Features & Compliance
Want to use the alternative procedure from now on? We don’t blame you! Just be sure to enroll in E-Verify and have managers complete the required free training on fraud awareness and anti-discrimination.
We also recommend you have a notary attend the virtual verification and sign off saying they witnessed the documentation signing. Ensure the employees make copies of the documents and send them to you.
Stay tuned for more guidance from the USCIS as details develop. And if you have more questions about identity and employment authorization or any other documentation requirements and processes, contact BlueLion today at 603-818-4131 or firstname.lastname@example.org!
The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.