Verifying I-9 Documents for Remote Workers

All employers are required to verify employment eligibility of their new employees by completing Form I-9. Section 2 of the form is to be completed by a representative of the company within three business days of the employee’s first day of work. To complete Section 2, the employer’s representative must physically review original documents which verify employment eligibility (acceptable documents include a passport, permanent resident card, driver’s license, birth certificate and many others as indicated on the instructions of Form I-9). These documents must be originals and cannot be copies, scanned versions, faxes and also cannot be viewed over a video call such as Skype. This creates a potential issue for companies with a remote workforce where employees do not all live and work in the same area.

Companies have a few options when hiring employees who live far away from the business. First, the company can have the remote employee travel to the business location for an orientation at which time a manager or HR representative can verify the I-9 documents in person. This must be done within three days of the employee’s first day of work.

It’s not always feasible for the remote employee to travel to the business within the first three days of employment. The other option is to have an “authorized and trusted” representative located near the employee complete the verification. This representative can be any one, but generally shouldn’t be a family member of the new employee.  It is the company’s responsibility to ensure that the form is completed correctly and on time, so it may be a good idea to use a representative who is familiar with the I-9 form such as an attorney, an accountant, a notary, or a HR staff member at a local business.  The employee would need to physically meet with the representative to have the I-9 form completed.

Employers may find it helpful to provide the employee and representative with guidelines for completing the I-9 as well as instructions for returning the form to the appropriate person for review.  Contact information for an HR team member who can answer questions about completing the form may also be helpful.

Once the completed form has been returned to the company, it should be carefully reviewed to be sure that it has been completed properly to avoid potential compliance penalties in the event of an I-9 audit in the future.

For more general information about Form I-9, check out our previous post by clicking here.