The Basics of Remote Form I-9
The employer must physically examine each original document presented to determine if it reasonably appears to be genuine and relates to the employee presenting it. Reviewing or examining document copies or via webcam is a serious violation of form rules.
Fortunately, for a remote hire you may designate someone to fill out Forms I-9 for you, such as a personnel officer, foreman or someone else in your company. You can also authorize anyone else to act on your behalf, such as a notary public or remote hire Form I-9 service.
The person or agency you select to represent you is not required by the Department of Homeland Security to have any particular training or experience; licensing or authority; or affiliation with you or your employee. Further, no one is barred from acting as your Authorized Representative because of their affiliation with the employee.
If someone else fills out Form I-9 on your behalf, he or she must carry out full Form I-9 responsibilities. However, you are still liable for any violations in connection with the form or the verification process.
For example, it is not acceptable for the person you select to view employment authorization and identity documents, but leave Section 2 for you to complete. The person who views an employee’s original documentation must also complete and sign Section 2 on your behalf.
Requesting a Quote
The truth is that our costs (and the costs of our competitors!) can vary, and for many different reasons. Location, time of the year, holidays, weather, your deadline, our network coverage– all can affect cost from day to day. Like other remote Form I-9 services, we could charge a flat rate but that would only guarantee that you would pay more than necessary for Form I-9 completion. Our process makes a lot of sense for employers who are concerned about the cost of hiring a remote employee.
Our unique process guarantees that you receive the lowest possible cost for each remote Form I-9 verification.
(Want to eliminate the quote process? Check out our “Complete by Phone” solution.
We ask that, for the first two or three service requests, you try us out by using the quote request form. Once you are confident that our service can meet your needs, we can set up a couple of processes to streamline your remote Form I-9 verification:
1. Invoicing: Rather than paying by credit card on a case-by-case basis, we can invoice you for completed verifications. After we’ve gotten to know each other (through two or three verifications), ask about this option.
2. Custom Submission Process: For higher-volume employers, we can set up a custom submission form. We still want you to receive the lowest possible cost for each new hire, but we can eliminate repetitive data entry. This works well with invoicing.
The Verification Process
To accept our quote, you will give us contact info for the employee and a little more info for the form, like your address and the employee’s start date. We will begin working on your Form I-9 verification immediately. Your employee receives an email that introduces us; explains what is about to happen and why; and tells them what they can do to speed up the process. At almost the same time, the assigned service provider receives detailed instructions and your employee’s contact info.
Finally, we send the service provider’s contact info to your employee so that they know from whom to expect a phone call.
Your employee and our service provider will agree on a time and location to complete the form. While most remote hires will choose to meet at a mutually-convenient public location, our service provider can travel to your employee’s residence, if necessary.
With the convenient “Complete by Phone” option, your employee can complete Form I-9, correctly and legally, without ever leaving home.
How quickly we can process your remote hire depends on several factors. Much of our process is automated; for example, when you accept the quote your employee and our service provider receive their instructions immediately. The time to completion is most affected by:
- How quickly you accept our quote;
- How quickly your employee responds to our service provider’s attempts to schedule a meeting.
While we have completed remote hire Form I-9 verifications in just a few hours, the usual time to completion is three to seven days. Because of the variables in the process, we cannot guarantee completion by a specific date, so request service as soon as possible.
Do you need Form I-9 completed really fast? With the “Complete by Phone” option and your employee’s cooperation, the form can be completed in about two hours.
You may have more time than you know! Form I-9 can be completed any time on or between the date that 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
You should request a quote as soon as you have offered and the employee has accepted the position. The employee can complete Section 1 as soon as she accepts the position, even if days before the meeting with our provider to complete Section 2.
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 “Digital Download”, which is the fastest form return option.
Tip: Request a quote as early as possible! The more time you give us, the more time we can work with our service providers to give you the lowest possible cost.
(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. Most employees are able to complete the form before their start date, and our service provider will not set a meeting to complete the form without confirming that the employee is ready and able to do so.)
If you are really pinched for time, select the “Complete by Phone” option. With your employee’s cooperation, we can complete the form the same day that you request service!
We offer several form return options:
- Secure Digital Download
- Regular (First Class) Mail
- Certified Mail
- Digital Download & Regular Mail
- Digital Download & Certified Mail
- Employee Return
- Onboarding Portal
- If you store Form I-9 on paper, you are required to retain the original form. Request a mail return option.
- If you participate in E-Verify®, you have an additional deadline to meet. Request a Digital Download return, the fastest option.
- If you keep the form on paper and participate in E-Verify®, request a combination return (mail and download).
- If you want to ensure that the returned form is accurate, request a Digital Download for the form to go through our in-house review.
- If your employee will upload the completed form to a portal, request Employee Return.
While we do not charge extra for any specific return option, our service providers will consider the hard cost of mailing. Employee Return and Digital Download tend to result in a lower verification cost.
With the “Complete by Phone” solution, you have two choices:
- Require the employee to return the form; the lowest cost;
- We will return a digital copy after reviewing for accuracy. The employee can return the original 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 other words, an error or omission that only your representative in the field can correct — our service provider will correct it. For all other errors, we will help you identify the best way to correct, or explain why it isn’t an error at all.
If you are already enrolled in E-Verify®, you have an additional deadline to meet (within three days after the employee begins work for pay). We will return the completed form for you to verify. You should request a Digital Download return, either alone or in combination with return of the original form by mail, 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.)
The Bottom Line
What makes our service unique is our flexible pricing and process for finding you the lowest possible cost. The truth is that our costs (and the costs of our competitors) can vary, and for many different reasons. Like our competitors we could charge a flat rate (and save ourselves a lot of work!) but that would only guarantee that you would pay more than necessary for Form I-9 completion. Our process makes a lot of sense for employers who are concerned about the cost of hiring a remote employee.
Historically, we have returned quotes of between $40 and $140, with the national average being around $89. We take our “lowest possible cost” guarantee seriously… if we are able to lower the cost, even after we send a quote for service, we will do so (by sending a revised quote).
The “Complete by Phone” option has a set cost:
- The employee returns the completed form to you – $50
- We review a digital copy for accuracy and forward to you – $65
(The employee can return the original form to you.)
If you insist… if stability in pricing is needed for budgeting/forecasting, we can establish a contract price that will be just above the current average cost of remote verifications. If minimizing cost is a priority, we don’t recommend contract pricing because we are always finding ways to reduce costs. However, if stability in pricing is a higher priority, we are happy to provide this option. Keep in mind, “contract” pricing doesn’t usually reduce your cost, but averages it. It also eliminates the opportunity for seasonal or geographical cost savings.
The “Complete by Phone” solution offers a set cost.
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 which can be used to reduce the cost of a future verification. That said, we need to take care of our service providers. If you cancel after your employee was a “no show” or met with the service provider but couldn’t complete the form, we will reduce the coupon code by a nominal amount.
If you cancel after the form is completed, there can be no refund. (Actually, because Form I-9 cannot be completed until after the employee is hired and you are required to retain the form for all employees, you are required to keep any form that we are able to complete for three years, even if the employee never actually worked for pay.)
Complete by Phone
Yes, the way we complete Form I-9 via a phone consultation 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.
Great question! Consider this… you’re hiring a remote employee; someone with whom you cannot meet to complete Form I-9. 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 15-20 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.
While form completion by a member of our service provider network is a great solution for remote Form I-9, both the service provider option and the “Complete by Phone” option produce the same result — a legal and accurate Form I-9. However, completion by phone is the better solution because:
- It saves time – Although our service provider network has completed forms in less than 24 hours, the typical verification will take four to seven days. With your employee’s cooperation, however, it is possible to complete Form I-9 via “Complete by Phone” in less than two hours. *
- It saves money – The typical verification via our service provider network costs $75 to $110 (average $89). We can complete by phone for $50 when the employee returns the completed form directly to you; for $65 if you want our in-house form specialists to review the form for accuracy.
- It is more convenient for the employee – When completed via our service provider network, your employee will meet with a stranger, either in the employee’s home or at a public place. With the phone option, your employee will complete the form with a friend, neighbor or family member… ideally without ever leaving their home.
- It has fewer potential complications – More things can go wrong with completion via our service provider network. With the “Complete by Phone” option, your employee need only have access to a printer and a friend. The phone call can be scheduled at a convenient time.
We Can Do It!
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.
If the employees are located in one location or will attend orientation sessions, we can provide experienced personnel to complete new forms on-site.
Yes, we can! 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!
Most employers use our service on an “as needed” basis…. from the occasional remote hire to 3-10 a week. But our service is flexible enough to respond to the most unusual needs.
Acquisition — A single service provider completed approximately 40 forms in California for a Michigan-based automotive finance company. The forms were completed over a three-day period, at the acquired company’s office.
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 “Complete by Phone” option 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