Soon after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it would defer the requirement that the employer meet with a new hire, face to face, to view original identification documents to complete Form I-9. The temporary rules allow employers to view the documents via a video call, fax, email, or other “virtual” method and complete the form by relying on the document copies.
Since March 2020, many employers have used the personal viewing exception to complete dozens if not hundreds of I-9s for new hires with whom they could not meet face to face. The rule has allowed higher-volume employers to maintain operations during the pandemic.
A temporary solution... or no solution at all
The problem with completing the form under the relaxed rules is that they provide only a temporary fix. From the interim rules:
Within three days of the rule’s expiration, employers must meet, face to face, with every employee who was hired under the exception to view original identification documents. Adding to the urgency, even though the interim rules have been extended multiple times (currently through March 31, 2021) the USCIS has customarily only given one or two days’ notice of an extension. Employers who relied on the COVID-19 rule may have no warning and only three days to comply with Form I-9 rules once the exception ends.
A nightmare scenario
Rather than solve a problem, the DHS COVID-19 rules have created a logistical nightmare for many companies; and especially for higher-volume employers now that the exception has been in effect for almost a year. HR staffs will be overwhelmed for weeks as they work through the face to face meetings once workers return to the office.
The situation will be even worse for employers who took advantage of the COVID-19 exception to complete I-9s for true remote hires… employees with whom the employer was never going to meet, face to face. Those hires will also be required to meet with the employer or an authorized representative to conduct the personal viewing of ID.
There is a solution, but employers must act now
Fortunately, there is a solution. Employers who are completing I-9s under the COVID-19 exception can begin to defuse the “ticking time bomb” today:
- Stop completing I-9s under the COVID-19 “virtual viewing” exception. Do not continue adding to the number of forms for which the personal viewing of ID has been delayed.
- Start completing Form I-9, in its entirety, today. Implement a process or retain a third-party service to complete the form, including the personal viewing of documents, for all I-9s going forward.
- Begin today to reduce the number of forms that were completed under the exception and still require a personal viewing of identification documents. Don’t wait until the COVID-19 exception ends (forcing you to personally view ID within three days).
About Verifyi9's Remote I-9 Solution
With our unique Remote I-9 service, employers can complete Form I-9 for any remote new hire, correctly and legally, at the time of hiring! The face to face meeting requirement is satisfied, eliminating the need to meet with the employee within three days after the COVID national emergency ends.
Verifyi9’s service leverages the freedom that the form rules give all employers to select a representative to complete Section 2 of Form I-9. Not only does our remote I-9 solution produce a 100% correct and legal Form I-9, but we can do so in a way that is most convenient for you and your remote or COVID-isolated new hire.
Employers using Verifyi9’s remote I-9 solution are not only completing Form I-9 today without relying on the COVID-19 exception, but numerous employers have used the service to eliminate the backlog of forms completed under the exception.
Worried about how you are going to defuse your “I-9 bomb”? Contact us today!
Verify I-9 LLC is a Form I-9 Auditor, Remote I-9 Processor, Consultant, and E-Verify® Employer Agent. Since 2007, we have helped hundreds of employers of all sizes complete Form I-9, correctly and legally, to hire a legal workforce. Today, we offer the most effective and convenient solution for completing Form I-9 during the pandemic and beyond.
More about our Remote I-9 service