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Among the myriad changes to HR practices and HR related laws, the Department of Homeland Security gave a temporary reprieve concerning the suddenly risky task of completing the Form I-9 Section 2 requirements in-person.

In place until the earlier of May 19, 2020, or three business days after federal government declares an end to the National Emergency related to COVID-19, employers may review I-9 documents remotely via video link (e.g. Skype or Zoom), fax, or email.  During this emergency, these methods of providing proof establishing identity and work authority suffice.  When documenting this process, employers are instructed to write “COVID-19” in the Section 2 Additional Information field of the form.  This still must be done within three business days of the employee’s first day of work.  After the National Emergency or May 19 deadline passes, employers have three business days to inspect the actual physical documents; this time for real. When you do that, simply write “Documents Physically Examined on _____” in the Additional Information field.

This is all to say, the emergency Form I-9 process is a temporary one and you will still ultimately need to physically inspect the employee’s documents.  Of course, the lack of hiring during this crisis is likely to make the change barely used, but, if you are fortunate enough to be hiring now, this temporary process will allow you to do so without running afoul of immigration laws.

For more information on COVID-19 Thompson Coe’s COVID-19 Response Team prepared significant information and has expertise to help your business.  Webinars, podcasts, primers, and information on state orders, can be found at and at  If you have any questions regarding this Tip or the myHRgenius program, please call at 651-389-5080 or visit our website at

Thompson Coe and myHRgenius Tip of the Week is not intended as a solicitation, does not constitute legal advice, and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.


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