The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (DHS-ICE) recently announced that it is sunsetting the Form I-9 flexibilities previously implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As discussed in previous posts, for more than three years ICE permitted employers of workplaces that were operating remotely to delay the mandatory in-person inspection requirements of Section 274 of the Immigration and Nationality Act and, instead, authorized employers to remotely inspect their employees’ identity and work authorization documents with the expectation that the employer would conduct the in-person physical inspection of the required documents within three business days after normal operations resumed or ICE terminated the temporary flexibilities.
Now it’s official. The temporary flexibilities permitting remote inspections will end on July 31, 2023. While employers are encouraged to plan ahead and bring their Form I-9s into compliance as quickly as possible, ICE announced that employers now have until August 30, 2023 (30 days rather than 3 days), to conduct the in-person physical inspections and properly annotate the affected Form I-9s for its employees hired on or after March 20, 2020, but remotely inspected.
Compliance is mandatory! The laws impose steep penalties – ranging from fines to jail time – for an employer’s noncompliance with the Form I-9 requirements.