Per U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) guidance issued Sept. 5, 2023, all Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification requirements remain in effect for areas affected by the 2023 Hawaii wildfires in Maui. Employers continue to be required to complete and retain – and reverify, as applicable – Form I-9 within the requisite period for all employees that they hire. USCIS has prepared a helpful fact sheet to address those affected by this federally declared disaster.
An employer must accept certain receipts for lost, stolen, or damaged documents from employees. New employees whose documentation may have been lost or damaged during the wildfire may present a receipt showing they have applied for a replacement document. A receipt satisfies the verification requirements for List A, B or C documents for which the receipt was issued and is valid for 90 days from the first day of employment.
Employees who cannot present the actual replacement document within the 90-day period may elect to present different acceptable document(s). Similarly, current employees who require reverification may also present receipts showing timely application for a replacement of their lost, stolen, or damaged documents.
The new version of Form I-9 – which expires July 31, 2026 – provides guidance on acceptable receipts on the updated List of Acceptable Documents, as excerpted below:
If Form I-9 records have been destroyed by the 2023 Hawaii wildfires, employers must:
- Recreate new Forms I-9 for current employees
- Annotate the Additional Information field for recreated Forms I-9 to read, “Original Form I-9 destroyed in 2023 Hawaii wildfire; replacement created MM/DD/YYYY.”
In the wake of this disaster, employers and employees may require atypical support from USCIS on a variety of matters relating to status, employment authorization and/or ability to remain in the United States. USCIS has discretion to take the following measures on a case-by-case basis for those impacted by an unforeseen circumstance:
- Document Replacement
- If a USCIS-issued document was lost or destroyed, a beneficiary may apply for a new document via benefit-specific filing with USCIS.
- The beneficiary may also request expedited processing of the replacement document as described below.
- Fee Waiver
- If an applicant is unable to pay the fee for a USCIS service or benefit, they may request a fee waiver for certain forms by filing Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver.
- Expedited Processing
- Expedited processing is formally available for some application types via premium processing through filing of Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service.
- Discretionary expedited processing may be requested based on emergencies, urgent humanitarian reasons, severe financial loss to a company or person, and U.S. government interests, among other limited reasons.
- General requests for expedited processing can be initiated by calling the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 or by “asking Emma” via USCIS.gov.
- Rescheduling of an appointment
- On June 28, 2023, USCIS announced a new self-service tool allowing benefit requestors, and their attorneys or authorized representatives, to reschedule most biometric services appointments before the date of a scheduled appointment.
- If an applicant did not appear for a scheduled appointment due to an unforeseen circumstance, they may show how the disrupting event impacted their ability to attend an appointment and may request a new appointment by contacting USCIS as indicated on their appointment notice.
- Flexibility for Visa Waiver Entrants
- The Visa Waiver Program entrants typically are not eligible to extend their stay or change status in the United States, but if an emergency prevents their departure, USCIS, in its discretion, may grant up to 30 days to allow for satisfactory departure.
- To request satisfactory departure, a Visa Waiver Program entrant should call the USCIS Contact Center.