January 22nd, 2024 | Sterling

Your Questions Answered About 2023 Form I-9 Changes

In 2023, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released notable updates to help modernize the I-9 process to match the evolving workforce we have today. These changes posed challenges for employers such as understanding the requirements of the alternative verification procedure and implementation of the newly revised Form I-9. In response to these changes, Sterling moved swiftly to get tools, fact sheets, and information sessions in place to assist employers in proactively meeting deadlines and help them gain the highest level of compliance.  

Recently Sterling hosted a highly-attended I-9 webinar, “What Employers Should Know About the New Form I-9 led by Sterling’s Angela Preston, Associate General Counsel, Corporate Ethics and Compliance, and Joshua Hill, Senior Product Manager, addressing questions our clients have been asking. This webinar provided in-depth information to help organizations understand: 

  • The recent regulations impacting the I-9 environment 
  • What the announcements mean for employers  
  • How Sterling has responded to these changes  

A live Q&A session helped answer some of the most popular questions by our clients. Here are the top 10: 

Q: What is the DHS-announced alternative verification procedure for Section 2 verification?

A: The alternative verification procedure allows eligible employers (who are in good standing with E-Verify) the ability to virtually inspect a new employee’s Section 2 documents via a video meeting. 

Q: What does it mean to be in good standing with E-Verify?

A: Good standing is not specifically defined. It does mean that the client is allowed to use E-Verify and is not pending a termination or has not been terminated for non-compliance. Example: If client is in the “terminated” or “pending termination” status, then they would be considered NOT in good standing. The government E-Verify website, has helpful information about the E-Verify program. The E-Verify program electronically confirms an employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S. by comparing information from Form I-9 records to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Ultimately, the client should be directed to their legal or compliance team to determine if they qualify for alternative verification procedures. 

Q: Are there any states in which alternative verification procedures are not permitted?

A: No, alternative verification procedures are permissible (but not required) in all states, but there are states where E-Verify is not an option and is required.  

Q: Are the 3 days to complete Section 2 of the Form I-9 still applicable for hybrids and all employees? What if the employee is not able to complete Section 2 within the 3 days as required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)?

A: Yes, the timeline in which the Form I-9 must be completed is the same whether you are in-office, hybrid, or 100% remote. If an employee is unable to come to the office within three days, they may choose to utilize alternative verification procedures or other methods of verification. Sterling I-9 clients have a suite of I-9 verification options, in which three of the options can be used to facilitate document inspection for employees working remotely. Learn more about Sterling’s verification options here.  

Q: Does the employee need to be a ‘remote worker’ to use the alternative procedures (virtual inspection process)? Can alternative procedures be used for both onsite and remote employees?

A: No, the worker does not have to be remote to use the alternative procedures. Alternative procedures can be used for both remote and onsite employees. Employers should refer to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for guidance regarding the consistent use of the alternative procedures. 

Q: How will Sterling support the changes made to the Form I-9 (08/01/23) and how does this impact our process?

A: Sterling’s electronic I-9 workflows accommodate the newly-revised Form I-9. Just as the paper form, there are separate workflows for Supplements A (Preparer/Translator) and B (Rehire/Reverification), which help streamline the process. 

Q. How is Sterling enabling the DHS alternative verification procedures for our Sterling I-9 clients?

A: Sterling has implemented a new alternative remote inspection checkbox in the Section 2 and Supplement B (Reverification/Rehire) workflows. As set forth by USCIS, the alternative verification procedure “checkoff box” is visible for clients where: 

  • They have been (and are using) the Electronic Form I-9 w/E-Verify package on their Sterling I-9 account 
  • Employee/Candidate Document Upload is set to Required for their I-9 account 
  • Document retention is set to Retain All Documents 
  • When the checkbox is used, the annotation in the Additional Information box will automatically be added to help clients align their remote inspection processes with requirements. The new Form I-9 (version 08.01.2023) is available on Sterling I-9 and displays the alternative remote inspection checkbox in both Section 2 and Supplement B (previously Section 3) for eligible clients. 

Q: Do alternative verification procedures remove the need for employers to virtually validate ID/supporting documents via video?

A: No, alternative verification procedures allow the employer to verify the employee’s ID/supporting documents by conducting a live video meeting. Alternative verification procedures take the place of a live in-person meeting. The employees must be present with their supporting documents, and the video and audio must be on. 

Q: Does Sterling offer a service leveraging alternative procedures to help employers complete Section 2 more conveniently?

A: Sterling and ID.me have partnered and are delivering Virtual I-9 Document Review, a new virtual I-9 document verification review service. This new Sterling I-9 service brings the following benefits to select clients who leverage E-Verify and use Virtual I-9 Document Review: 

  • Modern and Streamlined. The virtual I-9 document verification process will soon be available to Sterling I-9 clients who are also E-Verify users. 
  • Greater Convenience. Virtual I-9 Document Review Specialists will examine documents securely and conveniently, enabling new employees to complete I-9 onboarding without coming to a business office or meeting in-person with a notary. 
  • Highly-Trained Agents. Virtual I-9 Document Review Specialists are screened and expertly trained in Form I-9 Section 2 completion. 
  • Fast and Compliant. The entire virtual I-9 document verification process can be completed remotely in about 3 ½ minutes1 and complies with the newly announced regulations for virtual review DHS and USCIS. 
  • Securely Retained. All documents reviewed by ID.me are securely retained along with all other I-9 documentation in the Sterling system – making it easily accessible for audit purposes. 

Q: Does using a Virtual I-9 Document Review process meet DHS requirements for the appropriate completion of Section 2?

A: Yes, as long as the employer is in good standing with E-Verify and the process is followed as recommended, the Virtual I-9 Document Review process satisfies the DHS requirements when the verifier and employee meet via a Zoom video meeting.  

For more information on the DHS alternative verification procedures and other Form I-9/E-Verify processes, please visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. Sterling offers end-to-end employment background identity, screening, and onboarding services to help companies protect their employees, customers, and community. Learn more about our Sterling I-9 service  here


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Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.