US policy update allows remote verification for qualified employers

US employers must use Form I-9 to verify identity and work eligibility of hires, including H-1B sponsored workers


Employers in the United States are mandated by the US citizenship and immigration services (USCIS) to utilise form I-9 for the purpose of confirming the identity and work authorisation of individuals, who are hired for employment within the country, irrespective of their citizenship status.

This form is also employed to authenticate the eligibility of employees sponsored under the H-1B program. Earlier, this verification process necessitated a physical review of documents. There was a temporary provision for remote inspections during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, a recent regulation, effective from August 1, 2023, introduces a change. It permits certain ‘qualified’ businesses to conduct remote reviews of these documents.

These eligible employers, who are enrolled in the E-verify system, can now employ live video interaction to remotely verify the documents. This procedure involves assessing copies of the form I-9 documents, engaging in a live video interaction that explicitly indicates the use of the alternative verification method on the Form I-9, and retaining copies of these documents to facilitate potential audits.

Employers who qualify for the alternative procedure must ensure its consistent application and steer clear of any discriminatory practices. If this option is provided at an E-verify site, it should be equally available to all. Upholding non-discriminatory practices is of utmost importance, and employers are required to complete a complimentary E-verify tutorial addressing anti-discrimination measures.

Form I-9 retention mandates stipulate that employers should keep these forms for a duration of three years after hiring or for one year following the termination of employment. Authorised officials can initiate inspections with a three-day prior notice. Non-compliant employers may face penalties.

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