Topics Immigration

COVID-19 Flexibilities For Remote I-9 Document Review Ending; Employers Must Resume Physical Inspections of Employment Authorization and Identity Documents On August 1, 2023

Date   Jul 7, 2023

Executive Summary: COVID-19 flexibilities for I-9 document inspection will sunset on July 31, 2023, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is allowing an additional 30 days to complete physical inspection of documents for employees who previously completed the I-9 process remotely during the temporary flexibilities. Employers should plan ahead to ensure that all required physical inspection of identity and employment eligibility documents is completed by August 30, 2023.

What did COVID-19 Flexibilities Allow for I-9?

The Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, requires that an employer verify an employee's identity and U.S. employment authorization within three business days after the first day of employment. Traditionally, employers have been required to physically review employees’ identity and employment authorization documents in person.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March 2020, ICE announced that it would suspend and defer the requirement that employers review employees’ identity and employment authorization documents in the employees’ physical presence. Instead, for the past few years, employers were permitted to review employees’ identity and employment authorization documents remotely.

ICE later issued guidance that employers could continue to implement the flexibilities until affected employees undertake non-remote employment on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier. Flexibilities were extended until July 31, 2023.

How Are I-9 Requirements Changing for Employers?

Employers must resume physical inspection of employees’ identity and U.S. employment authorization documents on August 1, 2023.

In addition, ICE announced that employers must complete in-person physical document inspections for employees whose documents were inspected remotely during the temporary flexibilities by August 30, 2023. This new announcement gives employers additional time to complete in-person physical inspection of identity and employment authorization documents and annotate the Form I-9 for this population. 

Immediate Solutions

Employers have always been allowed to utilize a third party as an authorized representative to complete Section 2 (or Section 3) of the Form I-9 on an employer's behalf. Employers with remote hires may designate an authorized representative to meet in-person with the employee and complete Section 2 (or Section 3 for re-verifications) on the employer’s behalf. 

There are a number of companies that offer trained I-9 completers to perform in-person physical document review on behalf of employers. However, employers should be aware that they are liable for any violations in connection with the Form I-9 or the verification process committed by the person designated to act on their behalf. Accordingly, employers that use authorized representatives should perform post-verification audits to ensure accuracy and compliance.

How Should the Form I-9 be Annotated for Employees Who Previously Completed the I-9 Process Remotely?

The employer’s representative will need to physically inspect the employee’s Section 2 documents and then annotate the I-9 in one of the following ways:

  • If the employer’s representative is the same person who performed the remote inspection, they can write “COVID-19” and “documents physically examined on MM/DD/YYYY,” in the Section 2 Additional Information field on Form I-9.
  • If the employer representative who remotely viewed the verification documents is different from the person conducting the in-person review, ICE advises that the employer or its representative complete a new Section 2 of Form I-9 and attach it to the previously completed remote inspection Form I-9.
  • If one of the original verification documents has expired, it can still be physically reviewed and verified; however, employers must distinguish between expired List A or C documents that do not require employment eligibility re-verification from those that do.
    • Note: physical review and re-verification are separate processes.
  • If an employee no longer has the documents presented for remote inspection, and it is not feasible to insert all the new information in the “additional information” box, it is acceptable to complete a new Section 2, with signature, and attach the new Section 2 to the original Section 2, with a brief explanation in the “additional information” box.

What’s Next in I-9 Rules for Fully Remote Employees?

ICE is scheduled to publish a final rule which will make changes to the Form I-9 employment eligibility verification process in August (postponed from May). The rule is expected to formalize pandemic-era flexibilities and permit alternatives to in-person inspection of identity and employment authorization documents as part of the I-9 process.

The Bottom Line

Employers should plan ahead to ensure that all required physical inspection of identity and employment eligibility documents is completed by August 30, 2023. Specifically, employers should identify all Forms I-9 completed with remote document inspection and decide whether to perform physical document inspections onsite or use an offsite third-party authorized representative to complete in-person inspections going forward. Employers should notify impacted employees that they will need to cooperate to ensure compliance.

We will continue to keep you informed of the status of the proposed rule regarding alternatives to the physical document examination associated with employment eligibility verification (Form I-9).

If you have any questions regarding this Alert, please contact the authors, Christine Rodriguez, Associate in our Atlanta office at,  and Luis Santos, Partner in our Tampa office at Of course, you can also contact the FordHarrison attorney with whom you usually work or any member of FordHarrison’s Immigration practice group.