Immigration and legal residency are hot topics in today’s environment. As a result, closer scrutiny is being paid to monitoring the workforce and employment eligibility. Employers are required, under federal law, to verify employment status with Form I-9, “Employment Eligibility Verification.” When completing and submitting this form, employees also must produce certain legal documents — such as a driver’s license, a Social Security card and/or a work visa — to prove their identity and verify they are eligible to work in the United States. However, dishonest workers sometimes use fake or stolen IDs to get hired.
The Department of Homeland Security created the E-Verify system to help employers comply with the law and monitor their workforce. This system is currently voluntary for private sector employers in most states, but that could soon be expanded.
How Does it Work?
E-Verify is a free Internet-based system that compares information from an employee’s Form I-9 to data from the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration’s records to confirm employment eligibility. Employers must first register to use the system by enrolling online through the US Citizenship & Immigration Services Website: https://www.uscis.gov/e-verify. More than 600,000 employers currently use E-Verify to verify employment status.
The process is generally straightforward: You enter information from an employee’s work authorization documents to an online form. The system then generates either a confirmation of the consistency of the data, or a temporary non-confirmation (TNC).
A TNC requires the employee to call:
- The Social Security Administration to appeal the TNC if the issue is an inconsistency on the Social Security number; and/or
- The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for a “noncitizen immigration document mismatch.”
Most TNCs can be cleared up with additional explanation and supporting documents. However, if an employee fails to resolve the issue or appeal the TNC within eight days, the system generates a “final non-confirmation” report. The employer should review this report with their labor attorney, as it could mean the employer should either terminate the employee or rescind his or her job offer.
Who Must Use It?
The federal government is required to use E-Verify for all its employees and contractors. Individual states currently can adopt their own rules on using E-Verify.
Without uniform standards, it is difficult for employers with locations in multiple states to maintain compliance. So, the Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act was introduced earlier this year. The bill would require all employers to use E-Verify within one year of enactment. Critics, however, say that the bill would be costly to implement and ineffective in achieving its goals. Contact your employment law advisor for the latest information on the bill and required use, if any, in your state.
Should You E-Verify?
Under existing law, employers are held liable for hiring illegal workers. Noncompliance can result in audits, fines and even forfeiture of company assets. Whether or not you are required to use it, E-Verify is a “best practice” that can offer extra peace of mind that you are in compliance.