Now that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a new version of the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form, roofing contractors can take advantage of a new feature. 

Following up on the lessons it indicates it learned from millions working remotely during the COVID-19 lockdowns, DHS will now allow qualifying employers an alternative to the in-person examination of the original documents provided by newly hired employees and will permit employers to review copies of them during video calls.

A qualified employer is one that has enrolled in E-Verify.  For those with multiple worksites, new hires can only be remotely verified if the site into which they are hired has been included in the employer’s E-Verify registration. 

In order to remotely verify a new hire, a qualified employer must do the following in the first three business days of the person’s employment:

  1. Obtain copies of the employee’s identity and employment authorization document(s) (front and back);
  2. Examine these copies (front and back) of Form I–9 documents or an acceptable receipt to ensure that the documentation presented reasonably appears to be genuine;
  3. Conduct a live video interaction with the new hire who is presenting the original document(s) to ensure that it /they reasonably appear(s) to be genuine and related  to that individual;
  4. Indicate on Form I–9, by checking the corresponding box, that an alternative procedure was used to examine documentation to complete Section 2 (or for re-verification, as applicable) [This box is in the “Additional Information” part of Section 2 of the new form.];
  5. Retain, consistent with applicable regulations, a clear and legible copy of the documentation (front and back if the documentation is two-sided);
  6. Keep on file clear and legible copies of the employee’s documentation.

This new “alternative procedure” for verifying the employment eligibility of new workers has the potential to ease their onboarding process and save employer time in what can sometimes be confusing.