During the COVID-19 pandemic, employers were granted temporary allowances for virtually verifying remote employees’ eligibility to work in the United States. As of August 1, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made those allowances permanent for employers who participate in E-Verify via a recently released version of the new I-9 Form 2023.
Previous Form I-9 requirements ended July 31, marking a shift toward a more simplified compliance structure. Those previous requirements temporarily permitted employers to review documentation remotely for workers hired on or after April 1, 2021, if those employees worked exclusively in a remote setting due to COVID-19-related precautions.
In May 2023, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement announced that employers had until August 30, 2023, to physically inspect all documents that had been examined remotely using the COVID-19 flexibilities. Employers who do not participate in E-Verify must comply with this physical inspection requirement.
4 Criteria Employers Must Meet for Remote Review Option
Under the new I-9 Form 2023 ruling, however, employers who meet four criteria now have the option of inspecting an employee’s documents physically or reviewing them remotely. To qualify for the remote inspection alternative, the employer must have:
Performed remote examination of an employee’s documents between March 20, 2020, and July 31, 2023;
Been enrolled in E-Verify at the time they completed the Form I-9 for that employee;
Created a case in E-Verify for that employee (except for reverification); and
Still be enrolled and continue to participate in E-Verify.
Qualifying employers are not required to use remote verification but may choose to do so. Further, they may not deny physical inspection to any employees who are unwilling or unable to complete the process remotely.
The change reflects a commitment to fairness and inclusivity throughout the process. HR professionals have long advocated for this development, given that employers increasingly hire remote workers they may not initially meet in person.
Preserving E-Verify program participants’ ability to view and inspect documents remotely helps to even the playing field for smaller businesses that may not have the same resources as larger employers do to meet the more stringent requirements of physical document inspection.
Employers may use the previous version of Form I-9 through October 31, 2023, and must use the new I-9 Form after that. The revised I-9 Form features major improvements, including:
A modernized design that allows blanks to be easily filled in on tablets and mobile devices.
The reduction of sections 1 and 2 to a single-sided sheet, making it one page.
Shorter, simpler instructions.
Providing employers with a permanent option for virtually verifying employment eligibility marks a watershed moment for employers adapting to the changing dynamics of remote work. By participating in the E-Verify program and embracing the Form I-9 updates, employers can more easily navigate the complexities of employment verification and federal compliance.
Questions About the New I-9 Form? A Certified PEO Can Help
Like partnering with a trusted professional employer organization, this shift simplifies a critical HR process while also enhancing the potential for growth, innovation and inclusivity in the modern workplace. Small businesses that have questions about the new ruling or who need assistance with the employee verification process may get in touch with Axcet HR Solutions for help or more information.