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While DHS can be congratulated for stepping into the digital age and recognizing remote I-9 verification procedures as a secure alternative to in-person verification, the latest advice posted to the DHS I-9 Central website is a step in the wrong direction.  In the excerpted FAQ below, DHS advises that even if an employer were enrolled in E-Verify during the COVID-Flexibility Guidance period and retained a copy of any List A document presented by the remote hire for use in the photo matching process, that employer must nevertheless conduct a second virtual examination of the same document and annotate the employee’s I-9 as having completed that procedure on or before August 30, 2023.  

I am an employer who was enrolled in E-Verify when I performed a remote examination of my employee’s Form I-9 documents under the COVID-19 flexibilities between March 20, 2020, and July 31, 2023, and I created an E-Verify case for that employee. Once available on August 1, 2023, I am choosing to use the new alternative procedure, which allows me to examine Form I-9 documents by conducting a live video interaction for each employee whose documents were examined remotely under the temporary flexibilities but never physically inspected. Do I need to conduct a second live interaction if I previously examined my employee’s documents?

Yes. Whether you previously used fax, email, or a live video interaction during the COVID-19 flexibilities to examine your employee’s documents, you must conduct a new live video interaction by August 30, 2023. 

You must annotate Form I-9 with “alternative procedure,” the date of examination, and your initials in Section 2, Additional Information field or in Section 3, as appropriate. You should have already annotated the date of the remote document examination. This new annotation should be placed near the previous annotation.   []

The consequences of failing to engage in this duplicative effort could be liability in the multiple thousands of dollars in I-9 paperwork fines.  For now, we are advising clients to comply.  Ultimately, however, we view this mandate to be a waste of time and money – a tax that otherwise E-Verify compliant employers should not be made to bear.