What is the E-Verify System?
E-Verify System is short for Employment Eligibility Verification Program. It is an Internet-based computer application that permits employers to verify the employment eligibility (work-authorization status) of newly-hired employees, electronically over the Internet.
E-Verify is operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The USCIS and SSA launched the E-Verify System to help employers avoid legal troubles, from unintentionally hiring immigrants who are not authorized to work in the USA. Such immigrants are referred to as undocumented immigrants or less politically correct, but more familiarly, as illegal aliens or illegal immigrants.
How does the E-Verify System work?
To start, the employer (or the employer's agent) and newly-hired employee complete Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. Then the employer submits the Form I-9 information to E-Verify over the Internet, no later than three business days after the new-hire's start date.
To validate the new-hire's employment eligibility, the E-Verify System electronically compares the Form I-9 information submitted by the employee, to that stored in databases maintained by the SSA and USCIS.
If the E-Verify System determines that the new-hire is authorized to work in the USA, it issues an "Employment Authorized" message. If it cannot verify the new-hire's employment eligibility, it issues a "Tentative Non-confirmation" message. The finding is tentative, because the new-hire may contest it through the appropriate government agency while continuing to work his or her new job.
In addition to data verification, the E-Verify System is capable of biometric verification such as photo matching. More biometrics and other enhancements will be rolled out over time.
How do employers participate in E-Verify?
Employers (or their agents) participate in E-Verify by enrolling once and then by registering authorized users. Enrollment is free and provides instructions at each stage of the process.
An authorized representative must sign the E-Verify Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on behalf of an employer, and then the employer's authorized users must follow the guidelines in the MOU. Authorized users must complete a tutorial before using the system.
Must all employers participate in E-Verify?
E-Verify participation is voluntary for most employers, but a few states have made participation mandatory by law for certain employers and several others are considering similar laws. Additionally, former President George W. Bush ordered Federal contractors to participate.
Update: If Congress passes the Legal Workforce Act (H.R.1772) or a future equivalent, it will require all U.S. employers to use the E-Verify System.
Once participating, whether voluntarily or mandatorily, employers must verify the employment eligibility of all newly-hired employees regardless of their national origin or citizenship status. That's to help employers avoid discrimination charges.
How do I obtain more information about E-Verify?
For general information, instructions, news and such, start at the E-Verify homepage published by the USCIS. Consult an attorney for specific legal advice that fits your particular situation.
Note: Because the E-Verify System is still evolving, the information and links in this article are subject to change. To receive important updates, subscribe to Employee Rights Blog.
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