COVID-19 Related Changes to Immigration Employment Verification
On Friday March 20. 2020, the Department of Homeland Security announced two temporary changes to the immigration employment verification process resulting from COVID-19 and the associated State of Emergency. DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement suspended the in-person document review requirement for employers in COVID-19 affected regions. Additionally, due to the closure of Social Security Administration’s public offices, E-Verify has lengthened the amount of time an employee has to respond and resolve a Tentative Non-Confirmation.
The Immigration and Nationality Act requires employers to verify that their employees are authorized to work in the United States. This process requires an employer to physically inspect the documents an employee produces as evidence of employment authorization within three days of the commencement of work. Employers affected by COVID-19 National State of Emergency and related movement restrictions are still required to inspect documents. However, they may inspect the documents via fax, e-mail, or video link. Employers and employees must still complete an I-9 within three days of commencement of work. Employers should note the date of the electronic inspection of the documents along with the note “COVID-19” in part 2 of the I-9 form. Actual physical inspection of the documents must occur within three days of the lifting of National Emergency. The I-9 form should be annotated once the actual physical inspection of the documents occurs. Employers should keep a list of employees hired during the State of National Emergency and contact them once the emergency orders are lifted.
Everify is a joint DHS – Social Security Administration project that serves to verify the employment authorization status of US workers. Employers submit their newly hired employee’s information to eVerify for confirmation of their newly hired employee’s employment authorization. Employers that receive a Tentative Non-Confirmation from eVerify direct their employee to the Social Security Office to resolve the issue. Due to the closure of the Social Security Administration’s public offices, eVerify is extending the length of time an employee remain in Tentative Non-Confirmation Status. Employers who participate in eVerify and receive a Tentative Non-Confirmation may not take an adverse action against an employee because their employee is in an interim or tentative state. Once the State of Emergency is lifted and Social Security offices reopen, the extensions of interim status will stop, and employees will be required to resolve the discrepancy with Social Security.