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12 Days of Handbook Updates: Form I-9 Changes

12 Days of Handbook Updates: Form I-9 Changes

This is the ninth of our 12 Days of Handbook Updates that take you through 12 important topics for employers as we round out the year.

’Tis the season for remote work, and for many employers, the season of onboarding employees. Now is a good time to look at the U.S. Department of Homeland Securities’ (DHS) alternative procedure for remote examination of Form I-9 documents and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) new Form I-9.  

In July 2023, the DHS issued a formal rule that recognized the end of COVID-19 flexibilities and provided optional alternatives for employers to examine Form I-9 documentation in light of the remote world we live in. In August 2023, the USCIS published a new version of the Form I-9

I-9 Form Change Highlights

Here are some important highlights for the new Form I-9:

  • The form can be filled out on tablets and mobile devices
  • Shortened instructions (reduced from 15 to eight pages)
  • Includes a checkbox that allows employers to indicate they examined the Form I-9 remotely (under the DHS authorized alternative procedure)

Summary of DHS Alternative Procedure

For remote examination of the Form I-9 documents, employer must:

  • Be enrolled in E-Verify (in good standing)
  • Examine and retain copies of all documents (front and back if two-sided)
  • Conduct a live video interaction with the employee “to ensure that the documentation presented reasonably appears to be genuine and related to the individual”
  • Indicate on the Form I-9 that the employer used the DHS alternative procedure
  • Retain all I-9 documents you examine remotely with the employee’s Form I-9
  • Create an E-Verify case if the employee is a new hire

The DHS rule addresses whether the alternative procedure can be used for only some employees. The agency notes that if employers choose to use the remote examination process for some employees at an E-Verify hiring site, they must do so consistently for all employees at that sight. However, employers can also choose to offer the remote option for fully remote workers only (as long as this approach is not taken in order to treat employees differently because of their citizenship, immigration status, or national origin).

Therefore, as the holiday season comes to a close, employers are encouraged to determine how they want to approach verification of Form I-9 documents. And once an employer has chosen its approach, it may want to consider memorializing it in the handbook to ensure uniformity. It may also be wise to start out the New Year with Form I-9 and E-Verify training. Happy onboarding.


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