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How to Comply with I-9 Requirements for Remote Workers

Posted by Allyson Edwards on Jan 17, 2020 2:28:05 PM

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Technology offers new hires the opportunity to complete paperwork, upload documents, and e-sign documents from anywhere, at any time. In fact, many agile organizations take advantage of the technology and begin the employee onboarding process prior to a new hire’s first day as a way to increase employee engagement and drive productivity.

When it comes to onboarding remote workers, completing all of the new hire paperwork can become tricky- especially when it comes time to verify I-9 documents, as this is something that needs to be completed in person.

What is an I-9?

An I-9 is a government form used for employee verification and employee authorization for those hired for employment within the United States. All U.S. employers are required to complete Form I-9 for each individual, citizen or non-citizen. Here’s the breakdown of what needs to completed:

Section 1: To be completed by the new hire within the first day of employment.

Section 2: To be completed, reviewed, and signed by a company agent or representative within 3 business days from a new hire start date.

Section 3: To be completed by a company agent or representative. This is only to be filled out if the new hire lacks a year of employment or an employment visa has recently expired.

So how do organizations comply with I-9 requirements for remote workers?

The number of people who work remotely has increased by 140% since 2005, giving HR yet another new challenge. Here are a few tips on how HR can verify I-9 documents for remote workers:

1. Designate an authorized representative to inspect I-9 documents

The government allows a trusted agent or authorized representative to represent an employer in the case that an employee cannot physically hand over I-9 documents to an employer. This trusted individual can be a notary public, attorney, accountant, HR representative, or a librarian. Just make sure it’s someone that you trust.

2. Provide clear instructions for the new hire and agent

Now that you’ve designated a trusted individual to verify employee I-9 documents, you’ll want to create a clear, standardized set of instructions for both the new hire and the authorized representative who will be completing the form.

For new hire instructions: Communicate the significance and urgency of completing and complying with I-9 requirements within the set deadlines. Explain how it plays a crucial role in the employee onboarding process.

For authorized representative instructions: Provide as detailed instructions as possible to the remote authorized representative with instructions to: Review section 1, request original documents from the list of acceptable documents, and complete all of the information in section 2.

It’s a good idea to include a completed sample I-9 for reference, request any photocopies of documents, and include specific instructions on how you would like to receive the I-9 information. Make sure the authorized representative has contact information for both the new hire and the key contact at your organization if any questions arise during the verification process.

3. Put a review process in place

You’ve received all of the required documents from the agent, but before you submit, you will want to review all of the information to ensure that the I-9 is correctly completed. Fines for small errors like incomplete forms range from $110 to 1,1000 per violation. Here are some suggested steps to include in your review process:

  • Review all information in section 1 and 2 is complete
  • Ensure that the new hire submitted the appropriate documents
  • Compare the information on Form I-9 to the supporting documents. Be sure that that personal information like name, birth date, etc. match up.
  • Keep photocopies if needed for E-Verify

Prepare ahead of time and ensure that you have a plan in place to efficiently onboard all types of employees. Don't hesitate on looking to leverage outsource resources or technology that can assist with keeping your team on track, define processes, and ensure compliance.

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