Ask HR: How Do We Verify I-9 Documents for Out-of-State New Hires?

As every HR professional knows, I-9 forms are a necessity in today's business world. Every employee a business hires must complete an I-9 form in order to verify their identity and authorization to work in the United States. Not only must the form be completed, but the documents shown as proof must be verified in person.

So, what's a company to do when they work in one state and the employee they've recently hired works in another state? The HR experts at HR Support Center have the answer.

Question:

We’ve hired some new employees who live and will work out of state. How do I handle the validation of the required I-9 documents?

Answer from Eric, HR Pro:

I-9 forms present a challenge to employers who hire remote employees. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires that all documents required for the I-9 must be viewed in their original format. Therefore, a fax or scan is not acceptable. Instead, the original documents must be in-hand when the I-9 is completed and signed by a company representative.

Here are a few options, each of which must be done within three days of the new hire beginning work:

  1. Have the new hire’s manager or other person responsible for I-9 verification in your office travel to the remote location and complete the I-9. This person should carry out full I-9 responsibilities, completing all sections of the I-9.
  2. Have the new hire travel to your location for onboarding and training, and complete the I-9 during that time.
  3. Find someone to act as an authorized company representative for this one-time purpose of verifying documentation and completing the I-9. This representative may be any individual, although notaries public are the most common choice. Be aware that some notaries cannot or will not sign Section 2 due to state notary regulations. If a notary does act as your representative, they should not apply their seal on the Form I-9.

Whatever route you choose, remember that you remain liable for any violations in connection with the I-9 form or the verification process. Whenever possible, we recommend bringing new employees to your main location for paperwork, onboarding, and training.


Eric, HR ProEric has extensive experience in HR, management, and training. He has held several senior HR positions, including as the HR & Operations Manager for an award-winning interactive marketing agency and as HR Director for a national law firm. Eric graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Economics from the University of Oregon with a minor in Business Administration. Eric is also active in the community, volunteering with the regional Human Resources Management Association Advocacy Team and with youth training programs.


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