(CMC) — The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has further extended the physical presence requirements associated with Employment Eligibility Verification for Caribbean and other immigrants due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ICE said that the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees ICE, had extended this policy until December 31, 2020.
“Due to the continued precautions related to COVID-19, the Department of Homeland Security will extend this policy until January 31, 2021,” said ICE about the latest extension.
On March 19, due to precautions implemented by employers and employees associated with COVID-19, DHS said it would exercise prosecutorial discretion to defer the physical presence requirements associated with the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) under section 274A of the US Immigration and Nationality Act.
“This policy only applies to employers and workplaces that are operating remotely,” said ICE in a statement. “If there are employees physically present at a work location, no exceptions are being implemented at this time for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.
“Going forward DHS will continue to monitor the ongoing national emergency and provide updated guidance as needed,” added ICE, alluding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The immigration agency said that employers with employees taking physical proximity precautions, due to COVID-19, will not be required to review the employee’s identity and employment authorisation documents in the employee’s physical presence.
However, ICE said employers must inspect the Section Two documents remotely — such as over video link, fax or email — and obtain, inspect and retain copies of the documents, within three business days for purposes of completing Section Two.
ICE said employers also should enter “COVID-19” as the reason for the physical inspection delay in the Section Two Additional Information field once physical inspection takes place after normal operations resume.
“Once the documents have been physically inspected, the employer should add ‘documents physically examined’ with the date of inspection to the Section Two additional information field on the Form 1-9, or to section three as appropriate,” ICE said.
Once normal operations resume, ICE warns that all employees who were on board using remote verification, must report to their employer within three business days for in-person verification of identity and employment eligibility documentation for Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.
In March, New York Attorney General Letitia James had called on US Attorney General William Barr, as well as members of New York’s immigration courts, to take action and stop the further spread of COVID-19 by immediately halting in-person immigration hearings for Caribbean and other nationals.
James wanted Barr and the immigration courts to move instead to telephonic hearings and electronic filings.