New Form I-9 and Remote Document Verification Procedures

This month has seen the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) issue a new Form I-9 and shift its approach to remote document verification. While new forms and procedures can often be met with a groan, the new Form I-9 from the USCIS offers some improvements for employers. Moreover, as outlined below, the new remote verification procedures offer a lifeline for employers with remote workforces who have struggled with coordinating physical verification.

New Form I-9
On August 1, 2023, the USCIS issued a new Form I-9. While many of the changes to the form are largely cosmetic, some of the changes in both the content of the form and the instruction could prove helpful to employers completing these forms:

  • New hires and employers are no longer required to enter “N/A” in any field that was not applicable to them. Until this change, employers were subject to fines upon audit if, for example, a male employee had failed to enter “N/A” in the “Maiden Name” field.
  • Sections 1 and 2 are on the same page with narrower fields on the paper version.
  • Section 2 includes a new checkbox for employers who use an alternative, authorized procedure for examining documents.
  • Section 3 — used for reverification and (on occasion) for rehire — is now its own supplement.
  • The List of Acceptable Documents has been updated to include a summary of when USCIS receipts could constitute acceptable documents.
  • USCIS has clarified that, when a document is considered “extended” by its issuing agency (e.g.,  state department of motor vehicles), it will be considered valid for purposes of the Form I-9.

Employers have three months to transition to the new Form I-9, so you can continue to use the old form up until October 31, 2031, or you can go ahead and transition now. As of November 1, 2023, all employers must be using the new form.

Remote Document Verification
Throughout the pandemic, USCIS permitted employers to use remote verification procedures for remote workers — as opposed to physical examination of the presented documents. While USCIS ended this alternative procedure as of July 31, 2023, USCIS has announced a new opportunity for certain employers to again use remote verification as an alternative to in-person examination. Beginning August 1, 2023, employers who are (1) enrolled in E-Verify and (2) “in good standing” may again use remote verification procedures.

To be in “good standing”, an employer must meet the following qualifications:
  • Have enrolled in E-Verify for all hiring sites that use the alternative procedure;
  • Be in compliance with all E-Verify program requirements, including verifying the employment eligibility of newly hired employees; and,
  • Continue to be a participant in good standing in E-Verify at any time the employer uses remote verification.
Not only must employers be in good standing with E-Verify to use remote verification, they must also follow a strict set of steps for that verification. Qualifying remote verification includes the following:
  • Ask the employee to transmit to you copies of the List A or List B and List C documents that he or she intends to use for the Form I-9, so that you can examine them to ensure that they “reasonably appear to be genuine”;
  • Conduct a video conference call with the employee to compare the documents provided to the individual presenting during the video exchange, ask the employee to show you the documents that had been transmitted, and have the employee complete section 1 of the Form I-9 during the video call;
  • Retain a clear and legible copy of the documentation (front and back if the documentation is two-sided); and,
  • Indicate that you used an Alternative Procedure on Form I-9. If you are still using the old form (dated 10/21/2019), you will note “Alternative Procedure” in the “Additional Information” field in section 2. If you have transitioned to the new form (dated 08/01/2023), you will check the new “alternative procedure” box in Section 2.

Qualifying employers may choose to use the remote verification procedures for all employees at a hiring site or they may choose to offer remote verification for remote employees and continue physical examination for on-site employees. In making either choice, the employer must be consistent in its approach. (Note: a remote employee is permitted to request in-person verification, even if your standard practice is remote verification.)

If you have any questions about the new Form I-9 and remote document verification, please contact lead immigration attorney Michael Bowling or another member of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Group.

Print version.