What Employers Should Know About The New 1-9 Remote Verification

What should employers know about the new 1-9 remote verification and how to follow the alternative procedure? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

Answer by Kara Govro, Principal HR Legal Analyst at Mineral HR & Compliance, on Quora:

Beginning November 1, employers will be required to use the new Form I-9 (Rev. 08/01/23) for all new hires and reverifications. The prior version (Rev. 10/21/19) will only be effective through October 31. The overhaul of the Form I-9 is quite extensive, including a new remote verification process, referred to as the “Alternative Procedure” for Form I-9 verification. Here are some of the key changes:

  • The instructions have, mercifully, been reduced from 15 pages to eight.

  • Section 1, Preparer/Translator Certification, is now a standalone document (Supplement A) that employers can provide to employees when necessary.

  • Section 3, Reverification and Rehire, is now a standalone document (Supplement B) that employers can use if reverification is required.

  • The Form I-9 can now be filled out on tablets and mobile devices as well as easily downloaded.

  • The term “alien authorized to work” in Section 1 has been replaced with “noncitizen authorized to work.”

  • The Lists of Acceptable Documents page now includes acceptable receipts, as well as guidance and links to information on automatic extensions of employment authorization documents.

  • A box has been added that eligible employers need to check if the Form I-9 documentation was examined using Remote Verification, aka the new “Alternative Procedure” for Form I-9 verification.

Remote Verification (aka Alternative Procedure)

The new “Alternative Procedure,” which is a method of remote document verification, represents the biggest and most interesting change to the employment verification process. In short, qualified employers are allowed to verify Form I-9 documentation remotely for any employee hired on or after August 1, 2023 – USCIS has dubbed this the Alternative Procedure.

So, what makes you a qualified employer? Qualified employers are those that are participants in good standing in federal E-Verify. Employers are in good standing if all of the following are true:

  • They have enrolled in E-Verify for all hiring sites in the United States that use the alternative procedure

  • They are compliant with all E-Verify program requirements

  • They continue to be enrolled in E-Verify and in good standing at any time when they use the alternative procedure

If you’re a qualified employer, how do you follow the Alternative Procedure properly? An employer needs to take the following steps within three business days of an employee’s first day of employment:

  • Receive and examine copies of the employee’s Form I-9 documents (or an acceptable receipt) and determine if the documents appear to be genuine. If the documents are two-sided, employers need to examine copies of both the front and back.

  • Conduct a live video meeting with the employee. The employee needs to bring the same documents that they sent to the employer so the employer can ensure that they reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the employee.

  • Check the box on Form I-9 (Rev. 08/01/23) that an “alternative procedure” was used to examine documentation to complete Section 2 or reverification. If an employer is using the old form (Rev. 10/21/19) they should write “alternative procedure” in the Additional Information field in Section 2.

Employers need to retain clear and legible copies of all documents that the employee sent to complete Form I-9, regardless of whether the documents are from List A, B, or C.

Employers aren’t allowed to require employees to use the Alternative Procedure if they don’t want to. If an employee is unable or unwilling to participate in the remote verification process, the employer will need to perform an in-person examination. This could arise when new employees don’t have access to the necessary technology or are uncomfortable transmitting sensitive personal information electronically, particularly if the employer hasn’t provided a secure way for them to do so.

Finally, an employer that offers the Alternative Procedure at a particular hiring site needs to offer it to all employees at that site. There is an exception, however, if employers want to offer the Alternative Procedure only to remote employees and do in-person inspection for onsite and hybrid employees. Employers can’t choose when to use remote or in-person verification based on a person’s or group of employees’ citizenship or immigration status, national origin, or any other protected characteristic.

If you’re an employer who wants to utilize the Alternative Procedure, but you aren’t using E-Verify, you should begin the enrollment process now. You can start by seeing what’s needed to enroll here.

COVID-19 Flexibilities

Qualified employers can also use the Alternative Procedure to satisfy the requirement to physically examine Form I-9 documentation that was examined remotely under the COVID-19 flexibilities, but only if all three of these conditions are met:

  • They were enrolled in E-Verify at the time the remote examination for a new hire or a reverification occurred

  • They created an E-Verify case for the employee, except in the case of a reverification

  • They performed the remote inspection between March 20, 2020, and July 31, 2023

Employers should follow the alternative procedure steps and write “Alternative Procedure” and the date of the live video meeting on the Form I-9 in Section 2 in the Additional Information box or the section used for reverification, whichever applies. They should not create a new case in E-Verify.

Finally, where can you find the new I-9? The newest version can be found on the USCIS website or employers can order paper copies if they prefer not to use the electronic version. If you’re wondering which version you’re currently using, you can locate the version date in the bottom corner of the form. The old version will be dated 10/21/19 and the new version will be dated 08/01/23.