How to Conduct Remote I-9 Verification

Published: September 6, 2023 by Vijay Thakkar

employees discuss how to improve remote I-9 verification management

For every employer completing Form I-9, employment eligibility verification presents a seemingly simple but crucial and complex task in the hiring process. Every new employee must submit a document to prove their identity and eligibility to work for a U.S.-based employer, and the employer is required to duly examine the document presented and promptly verify the work authorization. Failing to do that within the stipulated deadline or failing to do it accurately might result in hefty fines — even criminal charges.

The new version of Form I‑9, Employment Eligibility Verification is now available for use as of August 1, 2023. Employers may remotely examine employees’ FormI‑9 documents provided they are enrolled in E-Verify. The alternative procedure is detailed in a notice in the Federal Registerpublished on July 25,2023.

Reasons to Introduce Remote I-9 Verification

To fill out Form I-9, the employee and employer or authorized representative need to be involved. An employee must fill out Section 1, and the employer is responsible for Section 2 and Section 3 in case of rehire, legal name change or reverification. An employee must complete Section 1 of Form I-9 by the first day of work for pay. The employer must complete Section 2 of Form I-9 within three business days from the date of hire. However, if you hire someone for less than three business days, you must complete Section 2 no later than the first day of employment.

As the technological advances and nature of some businesses increased the number of workers hired to perform duties from remote locations in the last decade, the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) set guidelines for employers to designate an authorized representative to act on their behalf and fill out Section 2 of the Form I-9, thus enabling remote I-9 verification process.

If you participate in E-Verify in good standing, you are qualified to remotely examine your employee’s documentation using a DHS-authorized alternative procedure at your E-Verify hiring sites.

Overcoming Remote I-9 Verification Challenges

Even though the remote verification flexibilities are provided, employers must constantly be aware of the possible challenges the process entails and make necessary preparations to remain compliant and avoid fines and penalties for unintentional violations.

Working With Authorized Representatives

Businesses are free to appoint any individual as an authorized representative in the process of remote I-9 verification, be it friends or family, a personnel officer, foreman, agent or notary. However, choosing someone familiar with Form I-9 or even experienced in document inspection and verification is advisable, given that employers remain liable for any violations or mistakes made by their representatives.

Depending on the state, this choice may not be unlimited. California is one such example. Only licensed attorneys, individuals authorized under federal law to provide immigration services, and individuals qualified and bonded as immigration consultants may act as the representatives authorized for remote I-9 verification.

Completing the Remote I-9 Forms With No Errors

Employers need to make sure that, even though the procedure is completed without their presence, the chance of making an error is minimal. A clear set of rules and detailed instructions should be sent to both the new employee and the authorized representative who will be completing the form. The instructions should include steps to follow by both parties, including the signing of any additional business documentation when necessary. In the case of notaries acting like authorized representatives, it is important to stress that there is no need for them to provide their seal on documents – their role as notaries has no bearing on the role undertaken in the process of remote I-9 verification.

Getting Enrolled in E-Verify

There are additional compliance concerns for the employers participating in E-Verify. With the tight three-day deadline, employers need to act quickly and have I-9 forms verified with enough time for a review and timely submission. Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs) occur when the information entered in E-Verify does not match with the records with Social Security Administration (SSA), DHS or both; in this case, the employer needs to notify the remote employee and take steps to correct the mismatch.

The extension of the deadline for resolution of the mismatch, introduced during the pandemic, has been terminated this July. On the other hand, the proposed DHS aims to provide flexibility in remote I-9 verifications to employers enrolled in E-Verify and those with no history of being fined for I-9 violations.

Introducing Efficient Technology

To reduce potential mistakes and violations, many employers see relying on efficient electronic I-9 solutions as a way to go. From storing and tracking documentation, to simplifying the remote hiring, the software for I-9 administration provides additional security while maximizing E-Verify and I-9 compliance.

When choosing the system to use, employers need to carefully check its features to make sure the technology is employed in such a way as to turn the I-9 verification, storing and management from complex and daunting into a simple, secure, and efficient process.

By opting for an electronic comprehensive automatic system, the employer eliminates a significant portion of the challenge, and ensures an efficient approach to onboarding remote employees without worrying about the compliance and outcome of an I-9 audit.

Remote I-9 Verification as a Response to Growing Remote Workforce

The future of work is never easy to predict, but it appears that remote and hybrid forms are here to stay. There are many individuals for whom remote work is necessary, either due to their location or a physical disability that makes the in-person inspection of documents impossible. Several factors can influence the shift toward remote work: technology development, economic trends and different needs of employees, to name a few. This flexibility is bringing many benefits to businesses and their employees. Still, it remains a challenge regarding management and compliance that needs to be ensured in every aspect of business operations.

As Form I-9 remains an essential first step in the working relationship, the importance of doing it right, whether in person or through remote I-9 verification, can’t be overstated.

An automated solution helps minimize the risks of faults in the I-9 verification process with built-in quality control mechanisms, safely stored, easy-to-access I-9s, prompt notification of expired authorizations, integrating E-Verify and data verification algorithms.


How do remote companies verify I-9 documents?

If your company hires remote employees, it’s important to understand how to do I-9 verification remotely.

Remote Examination of Documents Procedures:

  • Examine copies (front and back, if the document is two-sided) of Form I-9 documents or an acceptable receipt to ensure that the documentation presented reasonably appears to be genuine and relates to the employee;
  • Conduct a live video interaction with the individual presenting the document(s) to ensure that the documentation reasonably appears to be genuine and relates to the individual. The employee must first transmit a copy of the document(s) to the employer (per Step 1 above) and then present the same document(s) during the live video interaction; and
  • Retain a clear and legible copy of the documentation (front and back if the documentation is two-sided).

Indicate that you used an Alternative Procedure on Form I-9:

  • On the Form I-9 dated 08/01/2023, check the box to indicate that you used an alternative procedure in the Additional Information field in Section 2.
  • On the Form I-9 dated 10/21/2019, notate “Alternative Procedure” in the Additional Information field in Section 2.

What are I-9 verification services for remote employees?

When it comes to learning how to do I-9 verification remotely, several services are available to employers that can help ensure compliance and accuracy. To start, electronic I-9 software platforms, such as those offered by Experian Employer Services, offer remote-friendly solutions to verifying employee’s identities with features that allow employers and employees to securely upload documents, provide electronic signatures and identify errors to ensure compliance.

Additionally, the federal government has E-Verify, an internet-based system operated by the DHS in partnership with the SSA, that helps employers verify the employment eligibility of newly hired employees. When employers input information from an employee’s Form I-9, E-Verify compares that information against government databases to determine the employee’s employment eligibility in the U.S. While this is a voluntary program for most employers, it can help businesses remain compliant with work authorization regulations.

What is remote Form I-9?

Remote Form I-9 refers to the remote process of examining and verifying identity and employment eligibility documents used to complete Form I-9. Form I-9 is the same for remote and in-person employees, where Section 1 is required to be completed by employees. Employees must provide personal information, attest to their work authorization and provide a signature. Section 2 is required to be completed by the employer, where they or an authorized representative reviews Section 1 and completes Section 2. They also must inspect the employee’s original identification and employment authorization documents.

What is the recent announcement regarding I-9 remote verification?

The recent announcement ended the remote verification process on July 31, 2023. The new version of Form I‑9, Employment Eligibility Verification is now available for use as of August 1, 2023. Employers may remotely examine employees’ Form I 9 documents provided they are enrolled in E-Verify. The alternative procedure is detailed in a notice in the Federal Register published on July 25, 2023.

Is there a permanent I-9 remote verification process in place?

Yes, if you participate in E-Verify in good standing, you are qualified to remotely examine your employee’s documentation using a DHS-authorized alternative procedure at your E-Verify hiring sites.

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