With all the changes to business operations due to COVID-19, it is still important that we pay attention to the non-COVID-related changes that continue to occur in the employment world. The new I-9 form has been around since January 31, 2020, and its use has been voluntary until now. As you know, however, the use of the new I-9 form will be mandatory as of May 1, 2020. The new form is available in electronic format like previous I-9s. The forms may be maintained in electronic and paper formats. The date on the new version of the form is 10/21/2019 and is located in the lower left corner of the form. A revised Spanish version of the form is available but may only be used in Puerto Rico.
Some of the changes on the new form include changes to the country of issuance field in Section 1. The issuing authority field in Section 2, which is used when selecting a foreign passport, now includes Eswatini and Macedonia North, reflecting recent name changes to those countries. Those changes are only visible when using the electronic form. The instructions for completing the I-9 form have also been revised. They now reflect clarification on who can be the authorized representative for employers, an updated web address for USCIS, clarifications on acceptable I-9 documents, and updated process for requesting paper forms, and an updated DHS privacy notice. We strongly recommend that employers use electronic I-9s where possible. The e-form greatly reduces the chances of errors on the form and totally eliminates some of the minor issues, like date formats that have plagued employers for years.
Temporary Flexibility in Verifying Documents Under Section 2
You likely know by now that, due to the precautions implemented regarding COVID-19, employers are not required to review the employee’s documents in the presence of the employee. Documents are reviewed remotely by video, fax, e-mail or other methods. Employers must obtain a copy of the documents within 3 business days. When completing Section 2 using this method, answer “COVID-19” as the reason for not physically reviewing the documents into the additional information field. Once the documents are physically inspected, the employer should add “physical inspection” with a date in the same field. This change will remain in effect until May 18th, or 3 days after the termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first. Employers may only use this method where employees are working remotely. If the employer has employees physically present on site, this process is not available. Once normal work resumes, the employee must present himself to the employer within 3 business days for physical inspection and verification of the documents. Employers will be responsible to maintain written procedures for telework and onboarding for each employee.
Contact McNees Labor & Employment Group for all of your questions regarding I-9s.