The federal government is finally making progress on years of background check backlogs, ICE extends the Form I-9 waiver for at least another month, and there may be hope for fans of TV and movies as one state issues guidelines to get filming back on track. It’s all in the EBI Screening News Weekly Wrap.
Government Background Check Backlog Finally Clearing
The federal government is making remarkable progress in reducing the huge backlog in security clearances. Less than two years ago, more than 500,000 people were stuck waiting for their background checks to be completed. This left the intelligence community with 10,000 unfilled positions and pushed good candidates to quit the process to take other jobs.
In early 2019, it took an average of 414 days to finish just the initial top-secret clearance. By the end of the year, that was down to 289 days for the background check. Not only did this help get people on the job faster, government contractors in charge of the program say it helped ensure a safe and secure work environment for federal employees.
There might be even more help on the horizon. The Trump Administration launched the “Trusted Workforce 2.0” initiative back in March. This is the first time in at least 50 years that the government has taken a look at the vetting process as a whole instead of trying to fix the clearance program piece by piece.
ICE Extends Form I-9 Waiver
While we may be starting to sound like a broken record, it is important for employers to know that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has, once again, extended the deadline allowing Section 2 of the Form I-9 to be completed virtually.
This flexibility applies ONLY to employers who are operating 100% remotely due to COVID-19. These employers are still required to review the Section 2 documents, but during this time they may do that remotely over video, fax, or email. Once regular operations resume, employers must review the documents in person and note “COVID-19” as the reason why they were not able to complete the review within the first three days of employment.
The additional 30-day extension expires on August 19th, but another extension would not be unexpected.
Return to Work Guidelines for Film Production
Are you starting to feel like you might have reached the end of Netflix? Are you dreaming of the day the new season of your favorite show finally drops? You are not alone! Your binge-watching friends across the country are feeling the same way! And now, there may be a light at the end of that very long tunnel.
Louisiana has just released return-to-work safety guidelines for the film industry. Production companies will be allowed to resume filming in the state if they adhere to the best practices laid out in a 62-page document.
Some of the many requirements include having a COVID-19 Compliance Officer on every set, requiring face masks for everyone except performers, checking temperatures at the beginning of each workday, and filing a safety plan with the local government.
The hope is that production starts to ramp up sometime this month or next. Before COVID-19, there were 15 shows in production in the state.