The basics of remote Form I-9

Yes. Form rules allow you to select another person or business to verify employees’ identities and employment authorization and to complete Forms I-9 for you. That company or person will act as your “Authorized Representative” to complete the form. However, you are still responsible for the form and are liable for any violations of the employment eligibility verification requirements.

The employer must physically examine each original identification document while in the physical presence of the employee to determine if it reasonably appears to be genuine and relates to the employee presenting it. Failing to do so or examining document copies via webcam is a serious violation of form rules.

Fortunately, for a remote hire you can designate anyone to fill out Forms I-9 for you. On a job site, your “authorized representative” might be a foreman or someone else in your company. You can also authorize anyone else to act on your behalf; even a friend, neighbor or family member of the new hire. 

Our remote I-9 service explained

The “Complete by Phone” option leverages the form regulations that allow anyone to act as your “Authorized Representative” to complete Section 2. We work with your new hire to find someone within their circle of friends, family and acquaintances to act as your representative.

During a phone call while the employee and the “Authorized Representative” are in the required face-to-face meeting, our in-house Form Specialist will confirm that page 1 was completed correctly. We then tell the representative what to write in every required field on page 2 based on the employee’s special work status, if any, and the documents presented. Your employee can return the form directly to you, or we can review and return a digital copy.

Yes, our phone-supervised solution is completely legal and complies with Form I-9 regulations regarding the duties of the “Authorized Representative.” The elements to make Form I-9 for a remote hire legal are:

  • The form must be completed in a face-to-face meeting with
  • a person authorized by the employer to act as their Authorized Representative
  • to view original, unexpired identification documents, related to the employee,
  • from the Lists of Acceptable Documents. The representative must
  • describe the documents in the correct columns in Section 2 and
  • sign the Section 2 Certification, swearing that the elements above have been completed.

The person who acts as your Authorized Representative need not have any specific knowledge or experience; licensing or qualifications; or affiliation with you or the employee. Further, a person is not barred from acting as your Authorized Representative because of any affiliation with the employee (like a family member or spouse). We require that the Authorized Representative be a competent adult.

We are not your Authorized Representative; the person identified by your employee is. Our in-house Form I-9 specialist simply guides your employee and the Authorized Representative to complete the form correctly, and ensures that the above elements of a legal form are satisfied.

Select the service type that meets your need:

  • Full form for a new hire, on paper
  • Page (Section) 2 only for a new hire, on paper
  • COVID physical inspection of ID (page 2 only)
  • Section 3 reverification, on paper
  • Section 2 for a new hire on an onboarding portal
  • Section 3 reverification on an onboarding portal

Return options:

  • Original, hand-signed paper form
  • Digital (PDF) version
  • Combination digital and paper
  • Onboarding portal

From the moment that you submit the service request, we manage the process to completion. We will send your new hire detailed instructions; send reminders to ensure that the process moves forward; update you at various points; and return a complete and correct form. We will only contact you for assistance if your new hire fails to cooperate with us.

The service request form will ask for all of the information that we need to complete service:

  • Contact info for your new hire;
  • Your contact info;
  • Details needed for the form (your address, first day of employment, etc);
  • Special employment status, if any (OPT, CPT, H1-B, etc);
  • Service type (both pages on paper, page 2 only, COVID personal viewing, on an onboarding portal, etc.);
  • Whether or not you participate in E-Verify;
  • Payment details

You may have more time than you know! Form I-9 can be completed any time after the employee accepts the position and:

  • Section 1 – by the end of the first day of work for pay;
  • Section 2 – by the end of the third day after the first day of work for pay

The form can be completed before the first day of work for pay, so you should request service as soon as you have offered and the employee has accepted the position.

Also, form deadlines relate to the date that the sections are completed; not when the form reaches your hands. 

E-Verify: An employee must be submitted for verification by the end of the third day after the first day of work for pay. If you participate in E-Verify, request “I-9 Plus Review,” which is the fastest form return option.

Tip: Request a quote as early as possible! The more time you give us, the more likely we can complete the form by the statutory deadlines.

(Note: The employee has the right to present identification documents as late as the end of the third day after the first day of work for pay. You may not shorten the time allowed the employee to present documents and threatening to terminate a new hire for not presenting documents in a shortened timeframe may result in a charge of employment discrimination.)

Our effort to complete Form I-9 with your new hire begins automatically at the moment you hit the service request form’s “Submit” button. However, our ability to complete Form I-9 by the statutory deadlines is dependent on many factors including the timeliness of your service request and the cooperation of your new hire. For that reason, we cannot offer a guarantee of completion before a deadline.

Phone appointments are available on the quarter hour between 9:30 am ET and 9:30 pm ET (6:30 am and 6:30 pm PT) during the work week, and 10:00 am to 1:00 pm ET on Saturday. We are closed for phone appointments on Sunday, although the online appointment scheduler is available 24/7.

Great question! Consider this… you’re hiring a remote employee; someone with whom you cannot meet personally. To solve this problem, you cannot:

  • Have the employee complete Section 2 for you;
  • Have the employee email document copies and complete Section 2 yourself;
  • “Meet” with the employee by webcam, Skype, screen share or other online method;

To complete Section 2 of the form legally, your employee must meet, face to face, with someone. You could send the employee “into the wild” to complete the form on their own, risking errors and potential fines if you’re caught with an invalid form. Or you could spend valuable time fixing the errors made by your employee and/or the stranger your employee found to complete the form.

Here’s why our “Form I-9 by Phone” process is the best solution:

1. The “face to face” meeting requirement is satisfied. The Section 2 Certification must be signed by the person who personally reviewed the employee’s original identification documents while in the presence of the employee. 

2. You don’t want to manage the process yourself. We will spend 10-20 minutes on the phone with your employee and the person acting as your “Authorized Representative.” That’s time that you probably can’t spare. 

3. You want to ensure that the form is completed correctly. We tell your employee and the Authorized Representative exactly what to write in each field. When they are guided by one of our in-house form specialists, your employee’s friend, neighbor or spouse becomes your experienced and knowledgeable representative.

4. You want to maintain control of the process. Form I-9 rules hold you, the employer, fully responsible for the accuracy and completeness of the form. A defective form can cost your company $250 to $2,500 if you’re ever audited. Why would you entrust such an important responsibility to an unsupervised, potentially (Form I-9) ignorant, complete stranger?

The bottom line is that you’re paying for our expertise. You’re paying to ensure that the form is completed legally and correctly; to minimize the potential for thousands of dollars in fines for a defective form. And you’re paying to reserve your time for more important tasks.

You absolutely can do this yourself! In fact, it’s your responsibility as the employer to complete Form I-9 correctly and legally. But if you hire us, you WILL NOT:

  • spend time preparing and sending instructions for completing the form, making document copies, etc.;
  • exchange emails and phone calls trying to match your schedule to the new hire’s for the phone call;
  • spend 20-30 minutes on the phone with the employee and authorized rep, checking page 1 and guiding the rep through each field in Section 2;
  • rely on your own knowledge and experience (which may or may not be sufficient) regarding Form I-9, special employment statuses, acceptable documents, COVID-19 special rules, etc.;
  • spend time teaching the employee how to create digital copies;
  • transmit your employee’s sensitive and personally identifiable information through insecure processes like email;
  • spend time chasing after employees who do not return files promptly;
  • spend time reviewing the form to ensure that it was completed correctly;
  • spend time correcting errors with the new hire or authorized rep;
  • spend time worrying about whether or not you violated form rules or, worse, discriminated against or violated the rights of a new hire through a flawed process.

You should use our service ONLY if you really are looking for a “request it and forget about it” way to complete Form I-9 correctly and legally, and take it completely off your “to do” list.

The form

All elements for the completion of Form I-9 will be satisfied. The form will be completed in a face-to-face meeting at which your Authorized Representative will personally view and record your new hire’s original, unexpired and valid identification documents in Section 2. We do not take shortcuts.

If you choose to have us review the completed form, we will return a form that is legally sufficient; meaning that it would not result in any penalty if reviewed in a government audit.

During the phone appointment, our in-house form specialist will confirm that your new hire completed page 1 correctly. They will then guide the authorized representative, field by field, to complete page 2 after confirming that the employee had presented original, unexpired identification documents.

However, our form specialist must rely on the responsiveness and honesty of the employee and representative. If you find an error or omission on page 1 in a form that was returned directly to you by the employee (without our review), you should contact the employee directly to correct. Most page 2 errors and omissions can be corrected by you; please email or call if you need guidance. If the error will require a second viewing of identification documents, we are happy to assist. Please contact us at phone@verifyi9.com or call 888-933-8374.

If you are already enrolled in E-Verify®, you have an additional deadline to meet (verification within three days after the employee begins work for pay). We will return the completed form for you to verify. You should request “I-9 Plus Review” to have a better chance of meeting the E-Verify® deadline. If you are not yet enrolled in E-Verify®, we can help! We can complete the remote Form I-9 verification and E-Verify®. Learn more about our E-Verify® service. 

(Note: An employer can have only one E-Verify® account. We cannot process E-Verify® for your remote hires while you verify local hires in an existing account.)

Yes, we can complete the process on your portal. We currently do so on several portals including ADP, HRCloud and Workday. You should first ensure that you can provide a one-time login URL or other remote access. Second, you must ensure that the onboarding portal is not “locked down” to prevent access from outside of your offices. Some portals allow employers to upload a digital copy of page 2 and identification documents to complete the form.

Form I-9 rules make the employer solely responsible for Form I-9 errors and omissions by its Authorized Representative. Employers are authorized to correct the errors and omissions of its remote Authorized Representative that are not covered by the Section 2 attestation (personal examination of identification documents). Variations in formatting (dates, for example) are allowed as long as the data entered can be understood. Common abbreviations are allowed. Certain omissions (for example, not writing “N/A” in an otherwise blank field) are not necessarily errors.

For these and other reasons, we do not provide a guarantee but a promise — if you find required information missing from Section 1 or an error related to the personal review of identification documents in a form that we reviewed — tell us and we will ensure that it is corrected. For all other errors, we will help you identify the best way to correct, or explain why it isn’t an error at all.

The bottom line

Our remote I-9 service is offered at a flat rate:

  • The employee returns the completed form to you (“I-9 Employee Return”) – $50
  • We review a digital copy for accuracy and forward to you (“I-9 Plus Review”) – $65
  • Completion on your onboarding portal — $65

Higher-volume employers (500 or more per year) may qualify for a discounted or contract rate (unlimited verifications).

If you have paid for a verification and subsequently cancel because the employee decided not to work for you, or even if you found a way to do it yourself, we will gladly refund your payment in the form of a coupon code for the full amount which can be used to reduce the cost of a future verification. If you cancel after the phone appointment is completed, there can be no refund. If you request a cash refund, the amount refunded will be reduced by the non-refundable fee charged to us by our payment processor.

We can do it!

Yes, we can! When you acquire another business, you have a choice regarding the status of the acquired employees:

  • Treat the acquired employees as new employees of your company and complete new Forms I-9 for all;
  • Treat the acquired employees as continuing in employment, by obtaining and maintaining the existing Forms I-9.

Employers who choose to keep the previously completed Form I-9 accept responsibility for any errors or omissions on those forms. We recommend that you take advantage of the opportunity to start fresh with a new, correct form.

Our service makes it possible for the acquired employees to complete the new form conveniently. If the employees are located in one location or will attend orientation sessions, we can provide experienced personnel to act as your Authorized Representative to complete new forms on-site.

Yes, we can! An incomplete or illegally-completed form is like having no form at all; a critical error. An incorrect form can cost your company $2,500 or more in penalties if discovered in a government audit. With USCIS I-9 audits on the rise and now that the Monitoring & Compliance Division is requesting Forms I-9 as part of their less-formal “desk review,” you’re just playing the odds if you don’t address known problems now. We can correct forms for both remote and on-site employees.

Not sure if your current forms are correct? Ask about our Form I-9 audit service!

Yes. we can! A missing form is a guaranteed fine in a government audit. And if the employee is not authorized to work, the fine can be in the tens of thousands of dollars per unauthorized employee. We can complete missing forms quickly and correctly.

Yes, we can provide experienced personnel to assist in the completion of Form I-9 at your mass hiring event. Are you a manufacturer adding a new shift, or a movie production company hiring extras for a day? We can complete Form I-9 for your new hires on-site. Contact us

Most employers use our service on an “as needed” basis…. from the occasional remote hire to 3-20 a week. But our service is flexible enough to respond to the most unusual needs.

Acquisition — We completed approximately 40 forms in California for a Michigan-based automotive finance company. The forms were completed over a three-day period.

Acquisition — A Massachusetts-based home healthcare provider acquired a multi-location company in Texas. Four service providers completed over 150 forms during a four-day period in three different cities. The forms were completed during “new employee” orientation sessions. We subsequently completed 160 additional forms for employees who missed the orientation. 

Error Remediation — A North Carolina specialty foods company hired us to correct forms for 25 remote employees when an audit revealed serious violations of Form I-9 rules. A national engineering and energy consultant used our service to correct 80 deficient forms with minimal impact on the affected employees. 

Remote Hires & E-Verify — A California cybersecurity firm solved two problems with one simple solution when they hired us to process Form I-9 for their remote hires and verify their work authorization through E-Verify, at one low cost. More about our E-Verify service

Missing Forms — A Midwest parts distributor had never completed I-9s for its 130 employees. We completed the forms over a period of a month by working with store managers acting as the employer’s representatives.