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In yet another Form I-9 refresh, ICE proposes remote review pilot program

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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will propose Thursday a rule that would pilot an alternative document verification system to allow select, non E-Verify participant employers to examine Form I-9 documents remotely.

ICE — which just weeks ago made a similar program available to E-Verify employers in good standing — said the proposed pilot would be “open to most employers” but limited to those below a specified size threshold; the agency said a cutoff of no more than 500 total employees could be one example.

ICE would ask participants to track and report data, such as number of new hires and number of employees requesting physical document inspection, and it would require employers to retain clear and legible copies of all supporting documentation. Other requirements would include training to detect fraudulent documents as well as anti-discrimination training.

Per the proposal, participant employers “may be prohibited from using the pilot procedure” to conduct verification for employees who either work at the same physical worksite as a supervisor or official completing Form I-9, or who work in a hybrid capacity. Alternatively, employers may be given a timeframe to complete a physical examination of such an employee’s documents following an initial remote document examination, ICE said.

The proposed rule is slated to publish tomorrow, Aug. 3, and public comments on the proposal will be accepted for 60 days following publication.

The agency would use the pilot “to evaluate a range of potential effects on system integrity,” it said, such as error or fraud rates and discrimination within the pilot procedure compared to physical examination.

“Pilot participants, like all employers, would be subject to audits and investigations,” ICE noted.

Last month, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security finalized a rule that allows the secretary of homeland security to authorize “alternative document examination procedures.” Under that rule, ICE announced the alternative remote verification process for E-Verify users on July 25, in conjunction with an updated Form I-9 that includes a checkbox employers must use to indicate when they have used an alternative process.

The pilot proposal expected Thursday would not be open to E-Verify employers, ICE said. The pilot would be similar to the E-Verify version of the program, however, including with respect to remote document inspection, document retention, optionality and protections against discrimination.

ICE did not immediately respond to an HR Dive request for comment.

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