The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted immigration with changes to travel bans, visa processing, and immigration interview suspensions. These changes, combined with the need for social distancing to inhibit the spread of COVID-19, have driven employers – voluntarily and involuntarily – to accommodate remote work wherever possible. These work-from-home initiatives, while imperative, may have immigration consequences. As companies respond to workplace issues, it is important to include immigration-related requirements and considerations when crafting remote work policies
Due to COVID-19, we have seen a nationwide shift to remote work arrangements. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recognized the incompatibility of in-person employment-eligibility requirements with public health restrictions, and has therefore issued temporary accommodations to the Employment Eligibility Verification (Form I-9) compliance rules. These accommodations address the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requirement mandating that employers review original employment eligibility verification documentation in the presence of the employee within three days of hiring any worker. In light of the unique national emergency, DHS is allowing employers to inspect Form I-9, Section 2 documents remotely (e.g., over video link, fax, or email) and to inspect and retain copies (rather than originals) of those documents until normal business operations resume.