Form I-9 COVID Flexibilities Extended Through October 21, 2022
The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) has extended I-9 flexibilities enacted in response to stay-at-home orders and document renewal difficulties faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The flexibilities, which were set to expire on April 30, 2022, have been extended through October 31, 2022. In addition to other allowances, these flexibilities apply to remote workplaces/employers and allow inspections of work authorization documents to be conducted remotely as well as acceptance of expired List B documents for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification purposes. Importantly, certain I-9 verification flexibilities apply only to those situations where employees do not report to the employer’s offices on a regular, consistent or predictable basis, so, at this time of workers’ return to offices post-pandemic. Please contact immigration counsel for additional guidance and questions regarding I-9 verification and reverification procedures in light of updated government policies and audit risks.
I-9 Compliance Fines on the Rise: Staffing Company Fined over $1.5 million for Form I-9 Violations
In January 2022, a small staffing company was fined over $1.5 million after an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) audit uncovered and alleged over 1,800 “paperwork violations” of the company’s Forms I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. The allegations against the company included violations such as checking an incorrect box or multiple boxes, backdating or not dating Forms I-9, and using a signature stamp, among numerous other allegations of wrongdoing. The company was eventually found liable for over 1,400 violations.
Form I-9 must be properly completed by all U.S. employers for each employee they hire (citizen or noncitizen) within three days of each employee’s first day of work. I-9 compliance fines, which have been recently increased by the federal government, ranges from $252 to $2,507 for each paperwork violation and for recruiting, referral, and rehiring violations, the penalties can range from $627 to $25,076, per violation, depending on the offense. With fines continuing to increase and temporary I-9 flexibilities due to COVID-19 in place for only certain employment circumstances, employers should actively review their I-9 policies and procedures and consult counsel to ensure compliance with government regulations and prevent costly fines. Discuss your I-9 practices with your immigration legal counsel and address any changes you wish to make as they apply to your post-pandemic business model, including virtual offices and remote employment.
Did You Know? The Munsch Hardt Immigration Team represents a U.S. affiliate of one of the world’s largest coffee and food products distributors with international personnel transfers and in successfully prosecuting L-1A and permanent immigration proceedings for high-level executives and managerial personnel.