By  Dawn Lurie and Tieranny L. Cutler

Likely triggered by complications resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic[1] and increases in processing times to replace permanent resident cards, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on January 12 that the agency will issue a revised Form I-797, Notice of Action, for all Form I-90[2] applications filed beginning in January 2021. This I-797 notice will serve as a receipt notice for the I-90, as well as extend the validity of a Permanent Resident Card (“PRC” or “Green Card”) for 12 months from the “Card Expires” date on the front of the card. This change ensures that certain lawful permanent residents have documentation for completing Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, as well as for travel and identity purposes.

This seemingly small change has more complicated implications for employers than appears at first blush.
Continue Reading Another Day, Another Rule to Remember: USCIS Adds New I-9 List A Document Combo

By Dawn Lurie

With a new Administration moving into Washington D.C. amidst tension and confusion, immigration compliance remains top of mind for employers.  I know that because I hear from H.R. leadership, General Counsel’s offices, administrators running small family businesses, and shift managers at local pizza places across the country.  Some companies tell me they continue to “work from home,” some never left the workplace, and others are operating in a hybrid model.  Whatever the industry, wherever the location, and no matter the size, we are witnessing a significant shift in the onboarding process to produce outcomes similar to those achieved in-person; how we complete the Form I-9 is no exception.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt technological barriers that prevented remote work in the past. In doing so, it is forcing changes to the onboarding process while simultaneously addressing health and safety concerns. Employers facing these vexing Form I-9 compliance issues and ongoing confusion are hungry for more explicit directives from the government, and in turn, the government is trying to keep pace.  I am hopeful that the new administration, along with the hardworking career government corps, will recognize these challenges and partner with companies as they create effective and safe processes that meet the challenges of 2021, including those hurdles presented in 2020.

Below, we travel back into 2020 in order to flag concerns and frame various I-9 issues for employers, including a slightly updated set of Form I-9 Examples Related to Temporary COVID -19 Policies posted on I-9 Central’s Temporary Policies Related to COVID-19 page, as well as an October 2020 update to the M-775, E-Verify User Manual, concerning Tentative Non Confirmation (TNC) practices.
Continue Reading What’s New in the New Year? Initial I-9 Musings & Treasures from 2020

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