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Remote I9 Verification: Employer FAQs for August 2023 Form I-9
As of August 1, 2023, there’s a new Form I-9 to confirm worker eligibility where qualified employers can review employee ID remotely rather than in person.
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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (Citizenship and Immigration Services) announced there’s a new Form I-9 in town that employers may begin using as of August 1, 2023. This form has been consolidated from the previous version and has an optional remote verification process for qualified employers to verify employees’ identification (ID) via live stream video rather than in person.
In conjunction with the release of this new form is the sunsetting of COVID-19 temporary flexibilities for employers to simply review copies of I-9 documentation. Anyone hired between March 20, 2020, and July 31, 2023, who did not have their I-9 documents physically examined (per the COVID-19 flexibilities) must have their ID reviewed in person or via the alternative remote verification process (for *qualified employers) by August 30, 2023.
What are the changes to the new Form I-9?
The new Form I-9 has been modernized to fit on one page and be accessible on tablets and mobile devices. Instructions for Form I-9 have also been streamlined, and the word “alien” has been replaced with “noncitizen.”
Both the Preparer/Translator Certification and the Reverification/Rehire sections are now on separate, standalone pages that can be printed and given to employees when needed. And with the addition of the alternative remote verification process, a substantial burden on employers has been eased, particularly for those with remote staff.
Do employers still only have three (3) days to review employee IDs?
Yes. Whether reviewing ID in-person or remotely, you must verify a worker's employment eligibility documentation with their Form I-9 documentation within three business days of an employee’s first day of employment.
Did acceptable forms of ID change with the new Form I-9?
No, the actual forms of ID did not change. However, the List of Acceptable Documents now includes acceptable receipts, which may be a receipt for an application to replace a List A, B or C document that was lost, stolen, or damaged.
What is the process to remotely verify employee ID for the new I-9?
To remotely review an employee’s ID:
The employee must first securely send copies (front and back, where applicable) of Form I-9 documents for you to review and verify they appear genuine.
Both you and the employee must participate in a live video interaction where the employee presents the same document(s) for which they transmitted copies. You must ensure the documentation appears to be genuine and related to the individual.
You then check the box on Form I-9 that an alternative procedure (remote verification) was used to examine the employee’s documentation.
You must retain a clear and legible copy of the documentation either in paper or electronic format for either three years after the date of hire or one-year post-employment, whichever is later.
If a government official conducts a Form I-9 audit or investigation, you must be able to provide copies of the identity documents and employment authorization for those who participated in remote verification.
Is there a cost to participate in remote verification?
There is no direct cost to using remote verification.
However, there are indirect costs for choosing the alternative process of remote verification. These include time and/or admin fees using E-Verify, a platform for securely transmitting documents, and the cost for utilizing a video platform/service to conduct the live documentation review. It is the employer’s discretion for determining which platforms they want to use.
Can anyone choose to use the alternative remote verification process for the new Form I-9?
No. To participate in the remote verification process for the new I-9, you must be deemed a “qualified employer.” This means you are enrolled in E-Verify, have completed all E-Verify training, and are in good standing in E-Verify to conduct remote ID verification.
What does it mean to be in good standing with E-Verify?
According to the Federal Register:
“A participant in good standing in E-Verify is an employer that has enrolled in E-Verify with respect to all hiring sites in the United States that use the alternative procedure; is in compliance with all requirements of the E-Verify program, including but not limited to verifying the employment eligibility of newly hired employees in the United States; and continues to be a participant in good standing in E-Verify at any time during which the employer uses the alternative procedure.”
Is there a specific format for transmitting copies of I-9 identification?
There is no specific platform required for employees to send copies of their documentation. Employers can utilize the platform of their choice but should take precautions to ensure security.
Is there a specific format for using a live video interaction for the remote verification process?
There is no specific communication platform required for live video interaction. Employers can utilize the platform of their choice.
Is there training for using the alternative procedure of remote verification?
If you are a qualified employer wanting to use remote verification, there are resources available on I-9 Central for free training, instructions, and guidance. Please note that these are resources and not mandated training for any designated representatives.
Do I have to review employee I-9 documentation via live stream video?
No. Participating in the alternative option of remote verification is optional for qualified employers. You are welcome to view employee documentation in person if that is your preference.
However, if you choose to use the remote verification process with some employees, you must consistently use it for all without discrimination. Your other option is to offer the alternative procedure to only remote hires and then require all those who work on-site to do in-person verification, so long as there is no discrimination or different treatment of employees.
When do I have to start using the new Form I-9?
New employees hired as of August 1, 2023, should use the new Form I-9. However, there is a transition period for employers to change from the old I-9 to the new one between August 1, 2023, and October 31, 2023.
As of November 1, 2023, employers will be penalized for not using the new Form I-9.
What is the penalty for not using the new Form I-9 as of November 1, 2023?
According to the Federal Register:
“Beginning November 1, 2023, employers who fail to use Form I–9 (Rev. 08/01/23) may be subject to all applicable penalties under section 274A of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1324a, as enforced by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).”
Do I need to have existing employees who started employment prior to August 1, 2023, complete the new Form I-9?
No. Existing employees who were working for you prior to August 1, 2023, who have a properly completed Form I-9 on file with documentation that was reviewed in person do not need to complete a new Form I-9.
However, employees whose hire date is between March 20, 2020, and July 31, 2023, and who haven't had their documents inspected in person because of the COVID-19 flexibilities, must have their IDs reviewed by August 30, 2023. This can be done either in-person or through the new alternative remote process, provided you are a qualified employer.
Do I have to retain copies of employee ID that are reviewed in person?
No. The requirement to retain copies of all employee IDs for Form I-9 is only applicable to the alternative procedure of remote inspection.
You may choose to keep copies of employee I-9 documentation; however, if you review I-9 documentation in person and choose to retain copies for anything other than E-Verify, you must retain copies for all employees to avoid the appearance of discrimination.
*How do I qualify as an employer to use the alternative remote process for I-9 documentation of employees who used the COVID-19 flexibilities?
To qualify for the new remote employees' verification process to confirm documentation that was presented to you as a copy between March 20, 2020, and July 31, 2023, you:
Must have been enrolled in E-Verify at the time you performed a remote examination of the employee’s Form I-9 documentation; and
Created an E-Verify case for that employee.
If you were not enrolled in E-Verify at the time you reviewed the employee’s documents under the COVID-19 flexibilities, you must complete a physical examination of their ID by August 30, 2023.
Where can I find more information about the new I-9?
Here are several resources for more information about the new Form I-9:
If you are a Stratus HR client, please contact your certified HR expert for more details. Not a current Stratus HR client? Book a free consultation and our team will contact you shortly.