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FAQs Regarding Updates to Form I-9, End of COVID-19 Flexibilities, and Virtual Document Verification for E-Verify Employers

The in-person physical document inspection requirements for Sections 2 and 3 of Form I-9 were suspended as of March 20, 2020, by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) during the COVID-19 pandemic, and employers were given the flexibility to review documents remotely to complete the form. That flexibility ended July 31, 2023, and employers must now ensure that all I-9s whose Section 2 or 3 had been initially completed remotely are updated with a physical, in-person examination of documents no later than Aug. 30, 2023.

As these flexibilities ended, a new Form I-9 was released on Aug. 1, 2023, along with a new, permanent virtual documentation verification option for qualified employers enrolled in E-Verify.

The related FAQs below will be updated as needed.

The New Form I-9

When should employers use the new version of Form I-9, and where can it be obtained?

All employers may start using the new Form I-9 (Edition: 08/01/2023) starting Aug. 1, 2023. There is a grace period, however, allowing employers to continue to use the previous version (Edition: 10/21/2019) through Oct. 31, 2023.

Either version of the form may be used for updating I-9s due to the ending of the COVID-19 flexibilities.

What changes were made to Form I-9?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) made the following updates to Form I-9:

  • Reduced Sections 1 and 2 to a single-sided sheet. No previous fields were removed. Rather, multiple fields were merged into fewer fields when possible.
  • Moved the Section 1 Preparer and/or Translator Certification area to a separate, standalone supplement (Supplement A) that employers can provide to employees when necessary. Employers may attach additional supplement sheets as needed.
  • Moved the Section 3 Reverification and Rehire area to a separate, standalone supplement (Supplement B) that employers can print if or when rehire occurs or reverification is required. Employers may attach additional supplement sheets as necessary.
  • Removed use of "alien authorized to work" in Section 1 and replaced it with "noncitizen authorized to work," as well as clarified the difference between "noncitizen national" and "noncitizen authorized to work."
  • Ensured the form can be filled out on tablets and mobile devices.
  • Removed certain features to ensure the form can be downloaded easily. This also removes the requirement to enter N/A in certain fields.
  • Updated the notice at the top of the form that explains how to avoid discrimination in the Form I-9 process.
  • Revised the Lists of Acceptable Documents page to include some acceptable receipts, as well as guidance and links to information on automatic extensions of employment authorization documentation.
  • Added a box that eligible employers must check if the employee's Form I-9 documentation was examined under a DHS-authorized alternative procedure rather than via physical examination. 

USCIS also updated the following in the Form I-9 instructions:

  • Reduced length of instructions from 15 pages to eight pages.
  • Added definitions of key actors in the Form I-9 process.
  • Streamlined the steps each actor takes to complete their section of the form.
  • Added instructions for use of the new checkbox for employers who choose to examine Form I-9 documentation under an alternative procedure.
  • Removed the abbreviations charts and relocated them to M-274, Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9.

Updating I-9s Completed Remotely Under the COVID-19 Flexibilities

SHRM's Checklist: Ending Remote I-9 Document Verification Flexibility offers guidance on how to comply with the Section 2 and 3 updating requirements due by Aug. 31, 2023.

Employers enrolled in E-Verify and in good standing may conduct these updating requirements using the new, alternative virtual method as of Aug. 1, 2023.

May employers who are not enrolled in E-Verify use virtual document verification procedures for the Aug. 31, 2023, updating requirements?

No. Only qualified E-Verify employers may use the virtual method to update the affected I-9s. All other employers must complete an in-person, physical review of the employee's documents to update Sections 2 or 3 of the I-9.

We were not a qualified employer during the COVID-19 flexibilities, but can we enroll in E-Verify now, before Aug. 31, in order to review affected I-9s virtually?

No. Only employers who were E-Verify users in good standing at the time the affected I-9s were completed and remain users in good standing may conduct the required verification virtually.

May employers use an authorized representative to complete the physical document review and update the I-9?

Yes. Employers may still use authorized representatives to complete the in-person review of the documents and to complete Section 2 or 3 on the employer's behalf.

Must employers enrolled in E-Verify during the COVID-19 flexibilities do another document examination of affected I-9s, whether in person or under the new alternative procedure by Aug. 30, 2023?

Yes. Employers who were participating in E-Verify and created a case for employees whose documents were examined remotely during the COVID-19 flexibilities (March 20, 2020, to July 31, 2023) must still perform another document examination in all cases. These employers, if currently using E-Verify and in good standing, may choose to use the new alternative procedure starting on Aug. 1, 2023, to satisfy the physical document examination requirements by Aug. 30, 2023. See E-Verify Employers May Use Alternative Procedure for Form I-9 Documents Examined Remotely During COVID-19 Temporary Flexibilities.

Virtual Documentation Verification for E-Verify Employers

As of Aug. 1, 2023, qualified E-Verify employers in good standing may use the alternative/ virtual document verification procedure to conduct Form I-9 updates and reverifications, as well as to complete new I-9s for new employees.

While the regulations now allow for the secretary of Homeland Security to implement alternative/virtual verification procedures for all employers in the future, that is not currently an option for employers who do not use E-Verify.

On Aug. 3, 2023, however, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement proposed a pilot program for small employers (possibly those with fewer than 500 employees) to remotely verify I-9 forms—a program that would be similar to the virtual verification alternative for qualified E-Verify users. Comments from the public are welcome within the next 60 days on all aspects of the pilot's potential terms and conditions.

Who is a "qualified employer" allowed to use virtual document verification as of Aug. 1, 2023?

A qualified employer is one who is enrolled and participates in good standing in E-Verify. An employer in good standing:

  • Is enrolled in E-Verify with respect to all hiring sites that use the alternative procedure to remotely examine documents,
  • Uses E-Verify to confirm the employment eligibility of newly hired employees in the U.S., and

Complies with all other requirements of the E-Verify program.

The DHS does not provide a "good standing" rating; rather, employers must determine whether they meet the above criteria before using the alternative procedure.

What is a hiring site for E-Verify purposes when using virtual documentation review?

E-Verify defines a "hiring site" as "the location where the employer hires employees and they complete Form I-9."

Remote hires working from their home whose I-9 is completed virtually under the new alternative procedure would have a "hiring site" of wherever the employer or authorized representative is performing the virtual inspection (such as the corporate office, local office, or authorized representative's business location or home), and not the home of the employee.

When using authorized representatives for this procedure, many hiring sites may need to be established within the employer's E-Verify account. If only the employer conducts the virtual document reviews, then there is no longer a need for an authorized representative or their location to be entered into E-Verify.

Additionally, E-Verify distinguishes "hiring sites" from "verification locations," but in the situation of using virtual document verification for remote hires, the hiring site and verification location are the same when the employer conducts the virtual review of documents from the same location where the E-Verify case is initiated.

See E-Verify guidance on updating or adding hiring sites to the employer's E-Verify account.

May a qualified employer still require in-person document verification for all employees?

Yes. The alternative procedure is entirely optional. Under no circumstances can employers unlawfully discriminate, such as by deciding who is eligible for the alternative procedure based on a protected characteristic.

Can a qualified employer with a hybrid environment use both physical and video examination of IDs?

Yes. For example, a qualified employer may choose to offer the alternative procedure for remote hires only but continue to apply physical examination procedures to all employees who work onsite or in a hybrid capacity, so long as the employer does not adopt such a practice for a discriminatory purpose.

A clear policy detailing when an employer will use an alternative verification procedure is recommended.

May an employee refuse an alternative verification procedure and require the I-9 to be completed in person?

Yes. The employer must honor an employee's request to perform the document verification in person, whether by the employer or an authorized representative. An employee might make this request if, for example, they have concerns over the security of transmitting their personal documents to the employer. 

After July 31 and going forward, is there an option for employers who do not use E-Verify to review I-9 documents virtually?

No. While an option has been proposed, virtual review of an employee's documents is only available to employers enrolled in E-Verify.

For all other employers physical, in-person review of the documents is required, and can be conducted by either the employer or an authorized representative.  


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