Pilot Program Could Open Door to Even More Remote I-9 Verification
Author: Michael Cardman, XpertHR Senior Legal Editor
August 3, 2023
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today proposed a new pilot program that would allow select employers that are not enrolled in the E-Verify program to remotely verify employment-eligibility documents.
Last month, DHS announced a final rule allowing remote verification by employers that are enrolled in E-Verify and meet other qualifications.
That final rule also created a framework for DHS to authorize optional alternative documentation examination procedures as part of the Form I-9 process. So now DHS is floating a trial balloon - which it is calling the Non-E-Verify Remote Document Examination Pilot 1 - to see what will happen if it opens up remote verification to employers that do not participate in E-Verify. For example, will there be more errors, more fraud, or more discrimination?
"Data from the pilot will inform future consideration of a broader expansion of the remote examination option, which could allow even more businesses to make use of flexible options," DHS said.
If finalized, the pilot program would be open to most employers but limited to employers below a specified size (for example, 500 employees).
DHS would ask participating employers to regularly provide data including the number of new hires, the number of employees who requested to have a physical inspection and challenges associated with the pilot.
Participants would be required to examine and retain clear and legible electronic copies of all supporting documentation and may be asked to take other measures to improve the security of the pilot, such as undergoing training about how to detect fraudulent documents and how to avoid discrimination.
Pilot participants, like all employers, would also be subject to audits and investigations. DHS would evaluate information from these audits to measure impacts to the integrity of the Form I-9 process between the employers that use the alternative procedure and those that continue with physical document inspection.
Employers may submit comments online under e-Docket ID number ICEB - 2023 - 0007.
Employers have until October 2 to comment.
After the comment period ends, DHS will respond to comments and possibly make revisions before publishing a final rule that would formally launch the pilot program.