How To Verify I-9 Remotely


Do you want to verify I-9 remotely? Many companies are facing one of the most troublesome challenges of having a remote company: how to verify Form I-9. As more companies are making decisions on if they want to move to a work from home model, they are moving through the onboarding process and realizing that they don’t have the proper steps in place to verify form I-9 remotely.

Today, we wanted to walk you through some of the challenges of verifying Form I-9 remotely and give you some helpful options to check this critical document.

What Does It Mean To Verify I-9 Remotely?

If you want to verify I-9 remotely, you need a solution that can do the following:

  1. Be done 100% remotely, preferably with mobile phones in mind.
  2. Require little oversight or training from admins (you want your solution to reduce admin time.)
  3. Can withstand federal government audits.

4 Challenges That Come With Verifying I-9 Remotely

Of all the documents that need to be filled in for an employee to start work, Form I-9 is the trickiest. Someone needs to verify the documentation that goes with the form to ensure that workers are eligible to work in the United States.

I-9 Fines Can Be Catastrophic For Companies

As we discussed in our article about form I-9, fines for Form I-9 violations can be astronomical. If your company is audited, this could cost your company hundreds of thousands of dollars. Each penalty is levied per violation, not just once. If you have several hundred employees, these fines can wrack up fast.

The fines are significant, but they have a simple fix: verify that the Form I-9 is done correctly, and ensure you have all the paperwork associated with the document on file. For many companies, this is easier said than done, but it’s crucial for any company that intends to comply with federal employment regulations.

Document Fakes Are Getting Better Every Day

When an employer or authorized representative signs Section 2 of Form I-9, they agree to the following:

I attest, under penalty of perjury, that (1) I have examined the document(s) presented by the above-named employee, (2) the above-listed document(s) appear to be genuine and to relate to the employee named, and (3) to the best of my knowledge the employee is authorized to work in the United States.

This form doesn’t require an expert but wants anyone signing the document to be vigilant, feel the documents, and try to ascertain if they look authentic. Document fakes are getting better every day. Everyone needs to be alert and try to spot these documents if they can.

You Have A Small Window To Get The I-9 Verified

Unfortunately, you don’t have that long to ensure that the Form I-9 is verified. Even if you are remotely verifying the form, you have only three days to complete it. Due to this form’s rushed nature, it is even more vital that you take completing the form seriously. If you don’t get information from this form back in time, it could cost you even more fines.

Verifying I-9 Remotely Will Only Get More Challenging As People Decide To Move Their Business Online

As more people decide to move their business online, this problem will become even more pronounced. Many companies have started to see just how challenging verifying Form I-9 remotely is. There are solutions to this problem, though.

4 Ways To Verify Form I-9 Remotely

Now, let’s talk about four ways to verify form I-9 remotely. There have been various attempts to make this as easy as possible over the last few years. Here are some strategies that your team might decide to use.

Use A Satellite Office

Many companies use satellite offices to verify form I-9 remotely. What does this mean? Say that you are headquartered in Philadelphia, but you have many employers who live in Nashville. You could create an office for employees in Nashville, where you have HR personnel ready to verify their documents.

Using a satellite office is a solution that people with clusters of employees have used. While you might want someone from headquarters to sign off on the document, you don’t need them to. Someone from a local office can sign Form I-9, and your new employees don’t need to travel to the home office for you to verify the document.

But what if you don’t have offices established across the country? What can you do?

Connect Your Team Member With A Notary Public

One way that people have verified Form I-9 for their employees in the past is by hooking up their employees with a notary. Notaries can be trusted authorized representatives, but they are not adding a notarial seal to the document. Getting a notary to verify the Form I-9 doesn’t make the document any more official.

Many notaries struggle with signing the Form I-9. Notaries might not be familiar with the document or understand what they agree to when they sign the document. While working with a notary may seem official, they still need access to information to verify the form correctly.

Verify It Over Video

Due to the pandemic and businesses working remotely, the federal government has been letting people verify Form I-9 documents over video.

Here’s the thing: this is not a long-term solution. It is posed to expire in March 2021. These relaxed guidelines only apply to companies working remotely. If you have employees going into the office, remote verification over video may not apply to you.

Many companies would love to be able to continue verifying these documents over video calls, but this shouldn’t be apart of your long-term solution.

When you verify over video, you also need to keep a recording of the video on file. This verification isn’t very beneficial because it takes place over a video call. No one can touch the documents or view them up close to ensure that they are real.

While video sounds like a great solution, there are better solutions that will serve you and your business long-term.

For the most up-to-date guidance on video verification, check out the USCIS website.

Use WorkBright’s New Remote I-9 Feature

Last but not least, you can use the latest feature of WorkBright’s employee onboarding software: Remote I-9 to verify Form I-9 remotely. Remote I-9 allows your employees to elect a third party or authorized representative to sign section-2 of Form I-9. You can set the parameters of who is allowed to sign for them by selecting an age (for example, people who are 18+) and even adding if you want family members to be able to verify the documents for them.

After your employee selects a third party to be their authorized representative, that person gets a message on their phone. To move on, both members input their location, and our software ensures a match. From there, the third party can verify the documents from their smartphone.

One cool thing about our Remote I-9 software is that it gives you an audit trail. You can see all the events that lead up to the Form I-9 being signed by the third party. This information is invaluable if you want to use authorized representatives! Automatic audit trails give you and your company peace of mind if the government ever audits your documents. 

Do you want to learn more about our new Remote I-9 feature? Check out our dedicated Remote I-9 page to look behind the scenes at what makes this feature a game-changer for your business.

Conclusion: You Can Verify I-9 Remotely

Filling out Form I-9 correctly is crucial for businesses all across the country. You can verify Form I-9 remotely, but it does take some thought to make it a reality for your company. The I-9 is not as simple as other paperwork, and it requires verification of sensitive documents. If you’d like, give our Remote I-9 feature tour to see what it can do for your business.