DHS and ICE Extend Flexible Form I-9 Rules to September 19 Due to COVID-19

Form I-9 Updates

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On August 18, 2020, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced another extension of flexibilities in rules for Form I-9 compliance for an additional 30 days to September 19, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release from ICE.

On March 19, 2020, due to precautions implemented by employers and employees associated with COVID-19, the DHS announced it would exercise prosecutorial discretion to defer the physical presence requirements of the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) under section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

This policy only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely. If there are employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being implemented at this time for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for ‘Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.’

The policy was implemented for 60 days and set to expire on May 19, 2020. The DHS extended it for 30 additional days three times to June 19, 2020, July 19, 2020, and August 19, 2020. The policy is explained in more detail in the guidance at www.ice.gov/news/releases/dhs-announces-flexibility-requirements-related-form-i-9-compliance.

Employers should monitor the DHS and ICE websites for additional updates regarding when the extensions will be terminated and normal operations will resume. For more information about temporary policies related to COVID-19, visit www.uscis.gov/i-9-central/form-i-9-related-news/temporary-policies-related-to-covid-19.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) requires employers in the United States to complete the ‘Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification’ for all newly-hired employees to verify their identity and their employment authorization to work in the country. Both employers and employees must complete the form.

On January 31, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – an agency overseeing lawful immigration to the United States – published a new Form I-9 with a version date of “10/21/2019” that employers were required to start using by May 1, 2020. The new Form I-9 is available at www.uscis.gov/i-9.

COVID-19 is a deadly respiratory illness that spreads from person to person. As of August 20, 2020, there are approximately 22.4 million global cases and 788,000 global deaths, while the United States leads the world with approximately 5.5 million cases and 173,000 deaths, according to research from Johns Hopkins University.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – a leading global background check provider – provides a robust solution that simplifies the Form I-9 process so employers may compliantly verify work status and electronically capture required information without redundant data entry. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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