At the outset of the COVID pandemic, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) responded quickly to employer concerns about how to comply with the requirement to personally review supporting documentation for Form I-9. Because this form must be completed within three days of the first day of employment, compliance was not possible when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended social distancing and work from home protocols were established. This flexibility has been extended several times, permitting employers to review documents electronically coupled with the responsibility to complete the physical review when offices reopen. This presents a number of difficult problems not contemplated in March 2020, as offices return to work in stages and experiment with more flexible work-from-home policies.
In light of these changes in the workplace, USCIS announced on Oct. 25, 2021 that it is seeking comments from employers on remote certification, and how the regulations might be amended to permit more flexibility. This request was explained in an email sent to stakeholders:
Today, DHS published a Request for Public Input (RPI) to the Federal Register seeking input on employers’ and employees’ experiences with this process and to examine the impacts of remote document examination conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic. We seek feedback from any interested parties, including employer and employee groups such as trade groups or associations, employment recruitment and referral organizations, organizations specializing in employee onboarding, employees, researchers, and policy experts. DHS especially seeks to understand the potential costs and benefits of allowing for future remote document examination flexibilities.
Employers can submit comments with reference to Docket Number USCIS-2021-0022, through Regulations.gov. All written comments are requested on or before Dec. 27, 2021.