Completing Form I-9 for a remote employee is always difficult. However, using a knowledgeable and experienced Authorized Representative can eliminate the headaches associated with complying with Form I-9 rules. Choosing the right Authorized Representative can greatly reduce the risk of costly fines in the event of a government I-9 audit.
Remote Form I-9, Face-to-Face
To confirm a new hire’s eligibility to work in the United States, employers must examine identification documents. Because the employer must ensure that the documents are original, not obviously fraudulent, and relate to the employee presenting them, the form must be completed in a face-to-face meeting with the employee. Reviewing copies sent by mail or digitally, or examining documents via a webcam or other means is a gross violation of the rules.
Form rules must be met regardless of whether you hire locally or remote. A face-to-face meeting is required; employers who skirt the rules face a stiff fine for each incorrect form. If government auditors find a pattern or practice of violating the rules, penalties are enhanced. Practices that result in discrimination or the employment of unauthorized workers can result in criminal penalties. And it’s not just the business owners who are at risk of incarceration; recent prosecutions have reached to lower-level managers and supervisors as well.
The Form I-9 Authorized Representative
A little-known provision of Form I-9 rules allows the employer to designate an “Authorized Representative” to complete Form I-9. The employer may authorize anyone (except the new hire himself) to review the I-9 form and identification documents; describe the documents on the form; and complete the Section 2 Certification.
From the Form I-9 instructions: “You may designate an authorized representative to act on your behalf to complete Section 2. An authorized representative can be any person you designate to complete and sign Form I-9 on your behalf. You are liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations in connection with the form or the verification process, including any violations of the employer sanctions laws committed by the person designated to act on your behalf.”
And that means anyone. The Department of Homeland Security does not require the Authorized Representative to have specific agreements or other documentation for Form I-9 purposes. The representative need not have any particular qualifications, licensing, knowledge, experience or affiliation with the employer. Further, no person is barred from acting as the Authorized Representative because of their affiliation with the employee.
Options within the company might include other employees such as a personnel officer, foreman or project manager at a remote work location. The Authorized Representative can also be the new hire’s next-door neighbor, the teller at the bank, even Uncle Ben… the employer can authorize anyone to act on their behalf.
Stated another way, the person who views original identification documents in the presence of the employee and describes them in Section 2 must be the person who signs the Section 2 Certification as the employer’s authorized representative… whoever that person is.
Having a non-employee complete the form does not relieve the employer of responsibility to complete and retain a legal and accurate form. The employer is still liable for any errors or omissions, so it’s a good idea to authorize someone who is familiar with Form I-9 rules or, at least, give that person plenty of guidance.
Our Solution: Remote Hire Form I-9 Service
Our remote hire Form I-9 verification service provide a simple solution to assist your company in completing Form I-9 (correctly and legally) in the required face-to-face meeting. The advantages include:
- You maintain control of the process, thus minimizing your liability.
- Errors are minimized or eliminated, saving you time in remediation.
- You can take full advantage of the flexibility that Form I-9 rules provide regarding the Authorized Representative and the face-to-face meeting.
- Accepting the cost up-front saves you money and man-hours.