The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 forbids employers from "knowingly hiring illegal workers." Employers must comply with this law by verifying the eligibility of prospective employees to work in the U.S by gathering information on the I-9 form. One way to do this is by using E-Verify, an electronic way of verifying employment eligibility based on U.S. requirements.
What is E-Verify?
E-Verify is a free online system operated by the federal government which allows an employer to determine the eligibility of an employee to work in the United States by comparing information reported on an employee's I-9 form to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records.
Who needs to use E-Verify?
E-Verify is required to be used by all federal contractors and subcontractors for all employees except those who were hired before November 6, 1986. For other employers, participation is voluntary, although, increasingly more states are adopting E-Verify and requiring employers to use it.
How does E-Verify work?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has developed an E-Verify user manual for employers to use. It covers numerous topics related to E-Verify including handling initial verification, interim case results, and final case resolution and provides general guidance on the processes, rules, and responsibilities for employers. To further promote and help employers better use E-Verify, USCIS also provides manuals and free webinars.
Below is a basic overview of the steps involved in using E-Verify.
- The E-Verify process can be started anytime after the I-9 form is completed but in no case later than three (3) business days after the new hire’s actual start date.
- An employer inputs information from the I-9 form into E-Verify. Once all of the appropriate information has been put into the system, E-Verify compares the data to the records in the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security's databases.
- If the information matches, E-Verify will return an “Employment Authorized” result if the information matches. If a mismatch appears, E-Verify will return a “Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC)” result. The vast majority of cases are resolved within 3 days.
- If the employee decides to contest the mismatch, he/she must contact the appropriate agency to resolve the mismatch within eight (8) federal government work days from the referral date.
- If the mismatch is resolved, an “Employment Authorized” result will be returned.
- Otherwise, a final non-confirmation will be sent and the employee can be terminated based on E-Verify.
What are the benefits of using E-Verify?
According to the customer survey launched by USCIS in 2013, 86% of respondents were satisfied with E-Verify and 88% were confident in its accuracy. There are many benefits for employers in using E-Verify to determine employment eligibility, including the following:
- Easy access — E-Verify is available at anytime, anywhere with a computer and internet access. Or the employer can also outsource E-Verify to a designated third party agency.
- Fast results — The results of the employment eligibility check, no matter matched or mismatched, are quickly produced.
- Error checking — Possible errors and mismatches with government records can be accurately spotted via E-Verify.
- Photo matching — E-Verify photo tool was incorporated to combat document fraud, ensuring the documents’ genuineness.
- Compliance peace of mind — It is a rebuttable presumption that companies that properly use E-Verify are in compliance with Form I-9 and employment eligibility laws.
- Implementation flexibility — E-Verify allows multi-location participations for one company (state laws and federal regulations may limit use of this feature).
E-verify is a useful tool to prevent against hiring those who are not eligible to work in the United States. By adding E-Verify to the existing Form I-9 employment eligibility verification process, a company can benefit from the peace of mind of knowing that it is hiring employment eligible employees.
Sources: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; National Conference of State Legislatures. E-Verify FAQ; SHRM (2012). E-Verify: Covered Employers: Which employees must covered contractors E-Verify? Can they verify all employees?; Siskind Susser. The ABC’s Of Employer Compliance: E-Verify