The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently published a Federal Register Notice concerning remote employment eligibility verification (Form I-9). In it, the DHS requested public comment on a pilot program for more employers to access the alternative verification processes. Interested parties may share their opinion on the pilot until October 2, 2023.
Remote I-9 Verification
Currently, only employers with good standing who use E-Verify can remotely review Form I-9s. E-Verify is a website that electronically confirms workers’ eligibility to work in the United States. The DHS and Social Security Administration (SSA) operate this program, ensuring hired individuals prove their authorization to work in the states.
This criterion allows companies to verify I-9 documentation through live video calls and other methods. If an employer chooses to verify its new hires remotely, it must remember to fill out Section 2 of Form I-9s to indicate it used the alternative process.
The Pilot Program
According to the proposed program, only employers with 500 or fewer employees may participate. Interested companies must apply to participate in the program. However, only employers not enrolled in E-Verify may partake in the pilot program.
Like the remote verification process for E-Verify users, participating parties must consistently use their chosen review process through the site. For example, if a workplace decides to review Form I-9s remotely, it must do so for all employees at that workplace. Other aspects of the pilot program include the following:
- Remotely verifying Form I-9 documents over a live video interaction to ensure the employee’s records appear genuine,
- Examining the employee’s identification documents within three days of their start date and
- Explaining in Section 2: Additional Information that they used the “Initial Pilot” and marking the alternative procedure box
Before launching the pilot program, the DHS opened it for public comments. The DHS hopes for insight into the value of the program’s feedback data requirement, potential hurdles in collecting the data, and ways to increase the data quality. The agency is also open to suggestions on mitigating the burdens associated with the data collection process.
The Current Status
For now, the program is only a proposal and could change before its implementation. Such changes largely depend on the comments it receives from the public. Parties interested in more remote Form I-9 access can submit comments through the Federal eRulemaking Website until October 2, 2023.
These proposed changes act as reminders of the ever-shifting regulations surrounding Form I-9. The constant changes have made it challenging to remain compliant. As such, employers should consider partnering with a background screening partner that offers an electronic I-9 tool with E-Verify integration. The right partner will offer tools that guide employers through the process.