The Form I-9 employment verification process can be a thorn in any employer’s side as it seems to force company representatives into the role of “junior immigration officers.” Furthermore, this basic two-page verification document (minus instructions and acceptable documents list) is accompanied by a 70 page instruction manual, which only proves how easy it is for employers to make mistakes if the employment verification process is not fully understood.
For companies that hire remotely, the I-9 process becomes even more tedious. I-9 regulations state that in order to complete and certify Section 2 of the Form I-9 the company representative must physically examine the employment verification documents. Photocopies, scanned documents, pictures, or even documents viewed via Skype are not appropriate.
But that all changed on August 11, 2016, when the Fifth Circuit threw out a six-figure fine against a staffing agency who’s employment verification process consisted of one company representative in Texas inspecting the employee’s documents while another company representative in Minnesota saw photocopies and certified Section 2 of the Form I-9. According to the Fifth Circuit panel, the most reasonable interpretation of I-9 protocol allowed for corporate attestation.
While the Fifth Circuit’s ruling was the first of its kind, many are skeptical that other courts will follow suit. Therefore, best practice when completing the Form I-9 for remote hires would be that the company representative who looks at the employment verification documents must be the same individual who certifies Section 2.
The full case can be found here: http://www.ca5.uscourts.gov/opinions%5Cpub%5C15/15-60173-CV0.pdf
The Law Offices of Richard A. Gump, Jr., PC is committed to assisting employers with their employment-based immigration matters.