Can we verify new employee's identification documents virtually?

HR Pulse

December 20, 2023

Navigating the nuances of remote I-9 verification? Dive into our practical guide designed to make this process easy and compliant with USCIS regulations.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) generally requires employers to physically inspect the original documents presented by employees during the I-9 verification process where possible. Employers are required to examine the original documents to confirm that they are genuine and to record the information from these documents on the I-9 form.

In some instances, where the new employee is fully remote it may not be immediately possible to verify their identity. This process may be completed virtually.

Here's a general guideline for verifying new employees' identification via video conferencing:

Set Up a Video Conference:

Schedule a video conference with the new employee.

Explain the Process:

Clearly communicate the process to the employee and let them know what documents are required for the I-9 verification.

Request Scans or Copies:

Ask the employee to scan or make clear copies of their identification documents, both from List A or one from List B and List C.

Share Documents Electronically:

Have the employee share the scanned or copied documents with you electronically during the video conference. They can use email or a secure file-sharing platform.

Inspect the Documents:

During the video call, carefully inspect the documents to ensure they appear genuine and relate to the person presenting them.

Pay attention to details such as photo quality, expiration dates, and any other relevant information.

As the employer or an authorized representative, complete Section 2 of the I-9 form based on the information provided by the employee.

Record the Remote Inspection:

Make a note on the I-9 form that the documents were verified remotely and include the date of the video conference.

Retain Electronic Copies:

If you choose to retain electronic copies of the documents, ensure that you store them securely and consistently for all employees.

Follow Up with Physical Inspection (if required):

When circumstances allow, consider arranging for a physical inspection of the original documents as soon as possible.

It's important to note that these remote verification procedures were introduced as a temporary measure, and the guidance may evolve. Always refer to the most recent guidance provided by the USCIS or consult legal professionals to ensure that your practices comply with current regulations. Employers should be prepared to transition back to traditional, in-person verification when it becomes feasible and permissible.