The shift towards remote work has become a defining feature of the modern workforce, and with it comes a set of unique challenges for human resources and compliance departments. One of these challenges is completing Form I-9 for remote employees. The Form I-9, also known as the Employment Eligibility Verification Form, is a critical document that verifies an employee’s identity and work authorization in the United States. In this blog, we will walk you through the steps to complete the Form I-9 for remote employees, ensuring that your organization complies with federal regulations.
Understanding the Form I-9
Before diving into the specific steps for remote employees, it’s crucial to understand the Form I-9 and its purpose clearly. The Form I-9 is a two-page document issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Its primary goal is to verify the identity and employment eligibility of individuals hired in the United States. Employers are required by law to complete a Form I-9 for every employee, including remote workers.
During COVID, employers were allowed to verify employees virtually with the intent they would be verified in person by the end of August 2023. There have been some updates regarding Form 1-9 in recent months. As of August 1, 2023, employers can verify employees Form 1-9 documents remotely if the employers are enrolled in E-Verify. In addition, beginning on November 1, 2023, only Form 1-9’s dated “8/1/23” can be used by employers.
Steps for Completing I-9 Forms for Remote Employees
1) Verify Employment Eligibility
The first step in completing the Form I-9 for remote employees is ensuring they are eligible for employment in the United States. Like all other employees, remote employees must be able to work legally in the country. To do this, you must…
Request the Necessary Documents: Remote employees should provide you with documents that establish their identity and employment authorization. Examples include a U.S. passport, a Permanent Resident Card (Green Card), or an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Review and Record Information: Examine the documents provided by the remote employee and record the relevant information on Section 2 of Form I-9.
Complete Section 2: As the employer, you must complete Section 2 of the Form I-9 within three business days of the employee’s hire date. This includes recording the employee’s name, document title, document number, expiration date (if applicable), and other required information.
2) Remote Verification
Verifying remote employees can be more challenging than verifying their documents with in-person hires.
However, there are several methods you can use to accomplish this…
Video Verification: With companies having to enroll in E-Verify, you can use video conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype to inspect employee documents visually. Ask them to hold up the documents to the camera and compare them to the information they provided.
Maslow Media is enrolled in E-Verify, allowing the ability to effectively verify employees virtually. This critical step benefits all parties involved because the Form 1-9 documents are accurately processed.
Document Sharing: Remote employees can scan or take pictures of their documents and send them electronically. Be sure to use secure channels for document transmission to protect sensitive information.
Third-Party Services: Some companies offer remote I-9 verification services, which can help streamline the process and ensure compliance with federal regulations.
Once you have verified the remote employee’s documents, you must maintain accurate records to demonstrate compliance with the law. Here’s what you need to do…
Retain Copies of the Form I-9 and Supporting Documents: Keep a copy of the completed Form I-9 and any documents provided by the remote employee for the duration of their employment and at least three years after their hire date or one year after their employment ends, whichever is longer.
Keep Records Organized: Create a systematic record-keeping process to ensure easy retrieval of Form I-9s for audits or inspections when needed.
Completing the Form I-9 for remote employees is critical to maintaining legal compliance in today’s remote work landscape. By following the steps outlined in this guide and leveraging modern technology, you can ensure that your organization remains in adherence to federal regulations while providing flexibility to your remote workforce. Remember that the laws and regulations regarding employment eligibility verification may change over time, so staying updated on any updates or guidance issued by the USCIS is essential. When your business is ready to staff more employees, call Maslow Media!