Managing Remote I-9s Within Guardian during the Coronavirus Outbreak

Updated on: March, 2020

As the situation continues to change and evolve in regards to the current spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), the USCIS has recently announced a rare flexibility allotted to businesses operating remotely during this time. For organizations that had to change to a “work from home” policy, they will temporarily be allowed to defer the in-person requirement for inspecting employment authorization (Section 2) documents for onboarding employees. 

The flexibility does not change the employer’s responsibility to have an employee complete the Form I-9 as required by law. However, it does allow organizations to validate employment more immediately as needed. Please see a summary of this new option below:

  • Employers and workplaces that are operating remotely will not be required to review identity and employment eligibility documentation in-person and can instead inspect them remotely within 3 days of the employee’s start date
  • DHS mentions using video conferencing, fax, or email to conduct the remote verification
  • If there are employees physically present at a work location, employers cannot avail themselves of this exception; however, if newly hired employees or existing employees are subject to COVID-19 quarantine or lockdown protocols, DHS will evaluate this on a case-by-case basis
  • This special allowance will last for 60 days from 3/20/20 or within 3 business days after the termination of the National Emergency, whichever comes first
  • Once a business resumes normal operations, the new hire has to report to their employer within 3 days for in-person verification of the documents 
  • After in-person verification has occurred, the employer should annotate the I-9 with “COVID-19” and “documents physically examined” and the date. 
  • Additionally, employers may designate an authorized representative to act on their behalf to complete Section 2 (foregoing the two-part virtual verification and deferred physical inspection)
  • Effective March 19, 2020, any employers who were served NOIs by DHS during the month of March 2020 and have not already responded will be granted an automatic extension for 60 days from the effective date (DHS will later determine if an additional extension will be granted).

For Guardian users, both the remote and virtual verification options can be accommodated in the system. For a brief summary of how to apply either of these options in our software, read on below and contact if you have additional questions about either (or both) of these options.

Option 1: In-Person Verification Now

You can use Guardian to implement a “remote designated authorized representative” policy to support your “work from home” operations. The USCIS has stated that an authorized representative can be any person you designate to complete and sign the Form I-9 on your behalf. This instruction reflects a longstanding tenet of the law – that employers have broad discretion in this area as long as they remember that they are ultimately responsible for the completion of the I-9.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Remote Employee completes Section 1 from home
  2. Remote Employee is emailed a link to provide to a Section 2 verifier of their choice
    1. Note: This could be a (colleague, friend, neighbor, or even a relative depending upon your organization’s policy)
  3. Remote Employee brings their Section 2 identity verification documents to their chosen Section 2 verifier
  4. The chosen Section 2 verifier verifies the remote employee’s documents per the on-screen Guardian instructions and electronically signs Section 2 of the I-9
  5. Your HR team or designated Guardian user initiates the final I-9 approval within Guardian

Option 2: Virtual Verification

To further adhere to social distancing recommendations by the government in regards to reducing the spread of COVID-19, USCIS announced the temporary allowance of “virtual verification”. This is something that may still be facilitated by the Guardian system in conjunction with additional external tools.

Should an employer wish to validate an employee’s employment authorization documents virtually, they may use video-conferencing, email, fax, or other means. Employers will need to schedule a time to meet “virtually” with their new hire employee and also ensure that the employee properly completes Section 1 of the Form I-9. 

Once the Form I-9 and Section 2 are completed within Guardian, organizations should clearly flag these I-9s for in-person verification within three days of the return to normal business. Using the custom field option in the system may assist organizations to report on these affected employees.

After the state of national emergency has ended (or a period of 60 days has passed from 03/20/2020), the employer must proceed with their in-person verifications and submissions within three business days

Finally, users can include audit notes once physical inspection takes place to provide the additional information requested for this process. 

If you have any questions regarding this alert or have additional questions about either of these two Guardian remote hiring solutions, please contact   In addition, please check out our recent I-9 article which discusses remote I-9 policies during the coronavirus in even more detail:

Additional Resources

To find additional remote hiring resources inside the Guardian application follow these steps once logged into Guardian: (click images to enlarge)

In the left hand menu, click [Help]

Once inside the Help Center,
click [User Guides & Tutorials]

Underneath the User Guides & Tutorials header, click [Remote Agent I-9 Process]

Click on the desired resource listed
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