Federal law requires you to employ only U.S. citizens or foreign citizens who have the necessary authorization to work in the United States. Employers normally verify employment status with Form I-9, “Employment Eligibility Verification.” But how do you know a new employee isn’t being untruthful or providing false documents?
Ultimately, employers are liable for hiring illegal workers. Noncompliance can result in audits, fines and even forfeiture of company assets.
How Employees Verify Eligibility
New employees must submit proof of their legal eligibility to work in the United States by their third day of work. This requirement is typically satisfied with the combination of a valid driver’s license and a Social Security card. Passports and visas also suffice.
The employee shows the employer the requisite documents and completes Form I-9. But dishonest workers might use fake or stolen IDs to get hired. The Department of Homeland Security created the E-Verify system to help employers validate whether employees are truly eligible to work in the United States.
How E-Verify Works
More than 400,000 companies now use E-Verify to confirm the work authorization status of new employees. This free program cross-references information provided on an employee’s Form I-9 with Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records.
E-Verify can reduce human error and fraud. It also provides employers with added peace of mind that they’re in compliance with federal immigration and employment laws.
To begin using E-Verify, you must enroll your company online. After enrolling, for every new hire, the company must complete an online form using the new hire’s name, date of birth, country of citizenship and details from his or her work authorization documents.
The system verifies most new hires immediately, while others may take a few days. But errors occasionally occur. If E-Verify determines that someone isn’t authorized to work in the United States, he or she has eight federal work days to contest the ineligibility determination.
The system also alerts you when a current employee’s work authorization document, such as a green card or temporary visa, is about to expire — eliminating the need for HR to keep track of those dates.
What Doesn’t Change
Even if you use E-Verify, the company department still needs to maintain the I-9 forms and copies of corresponding legal documents for all employees in case you’re audited by the Departments of Homeland Security, Labor or Justice.
Current federal law requires that companies retain or store these records for three years after the date of hire or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later.
If you have any questions about using E-Verify, or you would like more information, please contact Ken Tornheim at [email protected] or call him at 312.670.7444.