On August 18, 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that employers have an additional 30-day extension to the flexibilities in rules related to Form I-9 compliance. This relaxation of the requirement to defer the in-person, physical inspection of new hires’ identity and employment eligibility documentation was initially granted in March and will now expire on September 19, 2020. 
Continue Reading The 2020 Summer Defrost Continues: ICE Extends I-9 Flexibility

As of early Friday morning, July 17, there’s been no announcement by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) confirming whether it will continue the flexibility granted in the Form I-9 process, temporarily suspending the in-person physical inspection requirement.  ICE originally announced the relaxation on March 20, as employers were beginning to grapple with COVID-19 work-from-home and shelter-in-place orders. The initial guidance allowed companies to review “Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax or email, etc.) and obtain, inspect, and retain copies of the documents within three business days for purposes of completing Section 2.” The relaxation of this requirement was extended through Sunday, July 19. Employers who have been using the virtual process, and will need to switch gears over the weekend, are getting very nervous.   
Continue Reading Still No Word From ICE On Virtual I-9s

On May 14, 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced an extension of the flexibilities in rules related to Form I-9 compliance, initially granted on March 20. The ICE notice extends the ability for employers to conduct Form I-9 completions virtually/remotely, for an additional 30 days, or until June 18. The guidance provides an alternative – for a time – to “in-person” I-9 document review in light of precautions necessitated by COVID-19. With the rules relaxed, Section 2 verification or Section 3 reverification can be virtually completed via an online meeting (Skype, Zoom, FaceTime etc.), email, or fax, provided employers retain copies of the documents, and complete the Form I-9 within three business days of an employee starting work. In the original announcement, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) stated that the virtual/remote process was not available to employers where employees were physically present at a work location. DHS also requires employers availing themselves of this discretion to review the employee’s identity and employment authorization documents in the employee’s presence, once normal operations resume, making the flexibility not so flexible and very time consuming in practice. The process of having to virtually check documentation, and then recheck in person within a tight time frame, has been unworkable for many employers.
Continue Reading ICE Announces Further Extension of Flexibility in Form I-9 Rules

In anticipation of the 10/21/19 version of the  Form I-9 becoming mandatory for use, on May 1, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) released the new M-274, Handbook for Employers. The M-274 is the handy companion to the Form I-9, and its importance should not be understated. The Handbook contains critical guidance on I-9 compliance, designed to supplement an employers’ understanding of its employment eligibility verification responsibilities and obligations. The M-274 contains 96 pages and should be used in conjunction with the Form I-9 instructions.
Continue Reading The Form I-9 & the New M-274- Handbook for Employers: Like Peanut Butter & Jelly

Late Friday afternoon, April 3, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security posted the following questions and answers in response to stakeholders queries on Form I-9 obligations in the midst of COVID-19.  We applaud the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for taking the lead on coordinating these responses and anticipate they will continue to be responsive to employer queries. The Q&A reiterates the original Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guidance, including confirming a hard deadline on timing- three days to complete the I-9 initially via a virtual/remote method and then three days to update with an in-person inspection once the business resumes normal operations. The Q&A also provides clarification on how to complete a Form I-9 with an expired driver’s license (sneak peek: use the actual expired date and write COVID-19 on the Form). Curiously the Q&A references electronic systems that don’t offer an additional information box field but suggests attaching a note to the I-9. The Q&A also confirms our suggestion, the person who views the documents  in -person should enter their name and date in the Additional Information Box.
Continue Reading New COVID-19 Q&As Related to Form I-9 and E-Verify

With the closure of Social Security Administration (SSA) offices in the wake of COVID-19, we are receiving questions concerning the impact on work authorization for individuals who may have recently entered the U.S. in a temporary work authorized visa status, i.e. H-1B, L-1, TN, E etc.

While the Social Security Number (SSN) is used and required, in a variety of areas, it is not mandatory to be presented as proof of work authorization.
Continue Reading SSA Office Closures and the Impact on SSN Issuance For Foreign Nationals

Virtual Coffee on Virtual I-9s: Immigration Compliance in the Wake of COVID-19

Monday, March 30, 2020  at 11am EDT

Hosted by Seyfarth Shaw and the US Chamber of Commerce

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently issued I-9 and E-Verify guidance in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel, which includes a former head of

Seyfarth Synopsis: E-Verify has offered guidance to employers to address concerns with expiring State Drivers’ Licenses and Identification Documents. The guidance, though, fails to address the situation where states have not granted temporary Driver’s Licenses or IDs extensions.

In response to queries sent by Seyfarth and other groups, E-Verify provided additional guidance addressing the COVID-19 National Emergency. We expect E-Verify to release a full  FAQ in the next week. Today’s guidance addresses the expiration of State Drivers’ Licenses and Identification Documents where employees are unable to renew these documents because of closures or limited services at Department of Motor Vehicles (DMVs).  In light of the National Emergency many states have extended the validity of these documents.
Continue Reading E-Verify COVID-19 Guidance on Expired Driver’s Licenses and State IDs

This blogpost has been updated on July 23, 2019 with information regarding the number of audit notices issued.

Seyfarth Synopsis: The temperature may be heating up in the nation’s capital, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is keeping things cool.  ICE Acting Director, Matthew Albence, confirmed that almost 3330¹ Notices of Inspection (NOI) have already been served, across the 50 states and Puerto Rico, initiating Form I-9 audits for companies of all shapes and sizes. It is expected that over 5000 NOIs will be issued before this latest ICE blitz is over. With the current enforcement climate, there may even be a resurgence of pre-dawn enforcement actions – otherwise known as “raids” – to surprise both workers and their employers. Companies should expect penalties to climb sky high, with recent reports of multi-million dollar fines, especially for non-compliant electronic I-9 systems — that’s right, something that has nothing to do with unlawful workers.  It is expected that over 5000 NOIs will be issued during this round of audits

What is an NOI?

An NOI initiates a government administrative inspection of a company’s Forms I-9 to determine whether they are complying with existing law.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) leadership considers civil administrative audits to be just one of many tools that ICE can use to reduce the demand for unauthorized unemployment and to protect opportunities for U.S. workers.  The current enforcement strategy includes an expanded use of civil penalties, employer audits, and debarment, as well as the criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly break the law.


Continue Reading ICE Chills the Summer with Thousands of Audit Notices Issued to Businesses Nationwide

By: Dawn M. Lurie and Greg Morano*

Seyfarth Synopsis:  On October 31, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) announced that it would preserve the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designations for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador.  To comply with the federal court order in Ramos et al. v. Nielsen et al, DHS’s Federal Register Notice (“Notice”) protects the TPS designation for each country and provides automatic extensions to existing work authorization documents.  TPS and related documentation for Nicaragua and Sudan are now automatically extended through April 2, 2019.  The TPS expiration dates for El Salvador and Haiti remain unchanged; September 9, 2019 for El Salvador and July 22, 2019 for Haiti.

TPS: What is the Status of the Program?

The Trump Administration attempted to terminate TPS for Sudan, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador.  On October 3, 2018, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction to prevent the termination of TPS and loss of work authorization for TPS beneficiaries.  The court case is ongoing with DHS appealing the injunction order to a higher court.

If the court case is not fully resolved by the time a designated TPS is set to terminate, DHS will issue a Federal Register notice extending TPS documentation for nine months.  This means that your employees will continue to work without interruption, but you will need to update Forms I-9 with the “Auto-Extensions”.  For assistance with identifying automatically extended documents and executing the automatic extensions, see our prior post here.

If a higher court permits DHS to terminate TPS, the beneficiaries’ status will terminate either 120 days after the court order, or on the TPS termination date, whichever is later.

Seyfarth will continue to monitor the court case and provide updates.
Continue Reading DHS Complies With Court Order, Preserves TPS for Four Countries