August 17, 2023

As of August 1, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allows qualified employers to review I-9 documents remotely, significantly helping employers with remote workers. Previously, all employers had to verify the employment eligibility for new hires physically. 

However, employers must meet specific requirements and follow procedures to qualify for remote verification. This guide will explain the basics of qualifying and following the procedure.

How to Qualify to Remotely Examine I-9 Documents

Interested employers must meet specific requirements before remotely examining employees’ employment eligibility documents. These conditions include enrolling in E-Verify for all workplaces using remote verification. They must also maintain good standing with E-Verify and comply with all requirements to remotely examine I-9 documents.

E-Verify is an online platform run by the U.S. government. It allows employers to verify the employment eligibility of their new hires by using the employees’ Form I-9 information. By inputting the information into E-Verify, employers can compare it with data from the Social Security Administration and DHS to verify identity and work authorizations.

Employers can enroll in E-Verify by finding the government-run website, clicking “Get Started,” and following its instructions. This process allows them to choose which locations to enroll in E-Verify. Employers may use one site to create all of your company’s cases for new employees. However, employers must understand that E-Verify does not exempt employers from completing Form I-9.

The Remote Verification Process

Employers remotely examining their employees’ I-9 documents must conduct a live video interaction with the employee. During this interaction, they must observe the employee completing Form I-9, Section 1, then uploading and sending the Form I-9. In addition, the employer must also review the front and back of the employee’s identity and work authorization documentation.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), employers must retain the documentation for three years after the employee’s hire date or one year after employment ends, whichever is later. Maintaining and retaining Form I-9s is crucial for complying with employment eligibility verification requirements. 

As such, government agencies like the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) often inspect employers for compliance. ICE will check that employers have indicated whether they used an alternative verification or re-verification process for Section 2 in Form I-9s.

What Next

Employers enrolled in E-Verify and with good standing may now use the new remote process. Otherwise, interested employers should register immediately to get started. Regardless of enrollment, employers many expect the process to prove more challenging as they adjust to the new form and regulations. The best way to ensure continued compliance is to incorporate an electronic I-9 management tool with E-verify integration. 


Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.