The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently added a dedicated Q&A webpage to their site to address the new temporary Form I-9 and E-Verify policies that have been implemented because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Q&A page includes new information and guidance that will be helpful for any organization hiring during the COVID-19 crisis.

You can view the entire USCIS Q&A page on its website. If you’d rather just know about the highlights and we’re providing you a simplified version here that outlines the new guidance and answers some questions you may have.

Let’s start with an executive summary of the changes.

Summary of USCIS’s New Temporary Form I-9 and E-Verify Policies

  • Virtual verification of Section 2 or Section 3 documents is permitted under certain conditions for employer I-9 verification, but there’s a catch.
  • “COVID-19” should be entered in Section 2 additional information field for employers following the virtual document verification workflow.
  • Within three business days after “normal operations resume,” employers who virtually inspected documents must inspect the original documents in the presence of the employee. After the in-person review has taken place, employers should annotate the I-9 with the date of the physical inspection and who conducted it. This is a new requirement.
  • If an employer conducts a virtual review for reverification (Section 3) they should enter “COVID-19 EXT” in the margin of Section 2 additional information field.
  • Employers can accept driver’s licenses and/or state-issued IDs that expired on or after March 1, 2020, if the state has extended the expiration date due to COVID-19. Enter the document’s expiration date in Section 2 and enter “COVID-19 EXT” in the Additional Information field.

Form I-9 and E-Verify: What to Know During COVID-19

Section 1

No change, employees still must complete section 1 no later than their first day of work for pay.

Section 2

Form I-9 must still be completed within 3 business days of a new employee starting work for pay. However, employers have two options for how the documents are reviewed:

  1. Conduct a virtual review of the documents within 3 days of hire, followed by an in-person inspection at a later time.
  2. Use an authorized representative to conduct an in-person verification within 3 days of hire.

Employers that choose the more flexible option 1, need to keep several things in mind:

  • They must obtain, inspect, and retain copies of Section 2 documents no later than three business days after the new employee starts work for pay.
  • Employers should enter “COVID-19” in the additional information field.
  • A physical inspection will need to take place within three business days after normal operations resume.

Section 3

Employers have the same options offered for Section 2.

E-Verifying Processing

Regardless of whether an employer uses a virtual or in-person document inspection, they still need to create a case in E-Verify within 3 days of the new hire’s start date. If a case creation is delayed due to COVID-19 precautions, they should select “other” from the late reason drop-down list and enter “COVID-19” as the reason for delay.


New hires can choose to present a receipt for a lost, stolen, or damaged document in lieu of the original. New hires have 90 days from the date of hire to produce the replacement document.

Have more questions about I-9 and E-Verify processing during the COVID-19 crises? Contact us today and we’d be happy to help.