Employers who have been abiding by the temporary policy changes in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s I-9 protocols should take note that temporary acceptance of some expired documents for the Form I-9 ends in May 2022. Additionally, DHS has issued a July deadline for all employers to formally update their employee’s I-9 form where this provision was utilized. The coronavirus pandemic prompted several changes to the Form I-9 protocols due to the fact that some government offices were closed and people were working remotely rather than in person at employer’s worksites. Though the pandemic wears on, the government offices are now operating on a more regular schedule once again, and employers will likely find that many temporary modifications are now reverting back to a more standard procedure.
Temporary Acceptance of Some Expired Documents for Form I-9 Ends in May 2022
Due to the pandemic, DHS temporarily allowed employers to accept expired List B identity documents, such as expired driver’s license and ID cards issued by federal, state, or local ID agencies, to complete the Form I-9. This was instituted in May 2020 out of necessity since government offices were not able to renew documents in a timely manner. However, now that things are returning to normal, DHS has announced this policy is scheduled to sunset and effective May 1st, identity documents that are expired can no longer be accepted by employers for the Form I-9.
Updating of Documents for Employees Who Presented Expired List B Documents Also Required
With this reversal in DHS’s policy comes an additional directive that employers should make plans to address, if relevant, in order to be compliant with federal I-9 laws. This mandate says that employers must update records of employees who presented expired List B identity documents for the Form I-9 between the dates of May 1, 2020 and April 30, 2022 by the deadline of July 31, 2022.
It is important to note that:
- If an individual who presented expired List B documents for the Form I-9 is no longer employed at the company, employers are not required to take any further action.
- If a List B document has since been auto-extended by the issuing authority, no immediate action is required by the employer.
However, for employees who are still working at the company who presented expired List B documents during DHS’ specified time period with no auto-extension by the issuing authority, will be required by employers to present an unexpired and approved identification document from either List A, a different List B document, or a renewed List B document by July 31, 2022.
In turn, employers are then required to enter pertinent information about the document such as the title of the document, the expiration date, the document number, and issuing authority in Section 2 of the Form I-9 under the heading of Additional Information. The company representative must also initial and date that section of the form upon making this entry.
What Temporary COVID-19 Mandate Will Be Next?
The temporary mandate allowing expired List B documents for the purposes of the Form I-9 was not the only change made amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The question then becomes, which additional temporary mandate will be the next to expire?
For example, until April 30, 2022 employers are allowed to virtually review Form I-9 documents. At the time of publishing for this post, there has been no official word from DHS as to if upon April 30th that mandate will end or be extended.
However, based on DHS’ announcement about expired List B documents that takes effect in May 2022, it would appear that the government agency is at least beginning to revert back to pre-pandemic policies for the Form I-9. This coupled with the fact that many employees are continuing to work virtually, even as some companies are asking employees to return to the office, has certainly made things more complex.
Time will tell what the next COVID-19 mandate will be set to expire, but employers must stay abreast of any changes in compliancy mandates or risk being issued a violation that could result in a hefty penalty.
Using Digital I-9 Software to Stay on Top of Changing DHS Mandates for the Form I-9
Employers have a vast responsibility in keeping their company compliant with federal law. If the laws never changed, there would be no need to stay on top of new policies. The last two years in particular have shown us that DHS mandates for the Form I-9 can change at any time, and it is the responsibility of the employer to stay current with those changes.
Given all of the complexities that employers have to keep track of, even the slightest change in Form I-9 processes can have a ripple effect in their already heavy workload. Not only does this latest change by DHS require proactive steps in no longer accepting expired List B documents as of May 1, 2022, it also requires reactive steps in updating records for employees that presented expired List B documents between the dates of May 1, 2020 and April 30, 2022. Add to this a potential change in staff handling and processing new hires, and it can create a perfect storm that leads to compliancy issues.
For reasons like these, employers are turning to the invaluable resource of digital I-9 software in record numbers. The software is designed to:
- Walk employers through the Form I-9 with a checks and balances system that can catch minor errors that could potentially lead to compliance problems
- Alert employers to upcoming deadlines and expirations before they become a compliance issue
- Signal employers of changes to existing Form I-9 protocol such as that of the Department of Homeland Security’s latest announcement
- Securely store all employee’s I-9 Forms in one safe cloud-based storage location
- Provide employers with an audit trail of all changes made to the form over the history of the Form I-9 supporting any internal or external audits by government agencies
- Centralize oversight for the I-9 and E-Verify programs helping employers create quality controls for compliance success
- Be technologically integrated with the federal E-Verify program, reducing the employer’s manual administrative burden of managing and monitoring two separate systems and processes.
Digital I-9 software is a tool employers can utilize to be significantly more effective in compliancy efforts while simultaneously streamlining their workload.
Employers cannot afford to risk being caught off guard by the ever-changing directives of DHS. Take critical steps now to avoid risking I-9 compliancy and consider enlisting the help of a company with reputable digital I-9 software.