In-Person Review of I-9 Documents Necessary for Remote Employee

We are hiring an employee out of state who will be living and working more than a thousand miles away. How do we handle getting his I-9 processed?

This can be a very difficult situation, since the law makes no exception for a remote employee—the employer must have the I-9 completed within the first three days of the employee beginning employment.


In prior years, employers routinely used the services of a notary public to complete the I-9, but that option has eroded. Notaries frequently don’t know what their responsibilities are, may not be familiar with the requirements of the form, or even are refusing to perform this task.

Indeed, California even has a law that requires an individual doing this task be bonded as an immigration consultant.

The employer is ultimately responsible for getting the I-9 completed and doing it correctly. The original documents must be examined; therefore “Facetime” and “Skype” are not acceptable methods of validating the qualifying documents. Nor can the new hire’s family member handle this matter.


• One option is to send the company’s HR director to handle the matter. The cost of a round trip flight could be significantly less than the possible penalties that might result from knowingly conducting the matter incorrectly.

• Another option is to obtain the services of an immigration consultant as noted above. Again, this is required in California when outsourcing this task.

• Yet another option is to obtain the services of an employment law attorney/firm near the new hire, as such law firm/attorney should be experienced with the nuances of the I-9 form.

Bottom line, employers in California should make sure to have in place an internal I-9 compliance policy and that employees who are responsible for administering the program be familiar with the requirements of this form.

A good source for information on I-9s is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website at

Column based on questions asked by callers on the Labor Law Helpline, a service to California Chamber of Commerce preferred and executive members. For expert explanations of labor laws and Cal/OSHA regulations, not legal counsel for specific situations, call (800) 348-2262 or submit your question at

Staff Contact: Dana Leisinger