The question of what is E-Verify is becoming more and more common with the recent increase in electronic document management systems, including the new interactive Form I-9 accessed via the internet. Another contributing factor may be related to increased Form I-9 audits by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents throughout the U.S.
Employers working with Federal contracts may be more familiar with E-Verify, as this FREE service is often part of their contractual agreement or if the company is in a state that requires E-Verify for all private employers. Yes, there are some states that REQUIRE private employers to enroll and use the E-Verify tool in conjunction with their Form I-9.
To find out if a state requires the use of E-Verify, employers of all sizes should visit their state’s labor department website or call their local labor agency. Some states require all private employers while some only require employers with a certain number of current employees to enroll in the FREE service. If a company is using a Human Resource Management system, like KPA’s HRDrive, they may call the Client Success Center and discuss if applicable to their organization.
The hardest way to learn participation requirements is through an audit by a regulatory body, such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In 2016, over 16.4 million E-Verify searches were run for new hires and 1.04% unauthorized workers were identified. This means 1.04% of the workforce who completed their Form I-9 were not actually authorized to work in U.S. and companies were then able to increase their compliance with state and federal laws.
Perhaps E-Verify isn’t required by the state and a company is not under other contractual obligations to utilize it but would like to start using it. Here are some things to consider before enrolling in the E-Verify program:
- E-Verify does not replace the Form I-9
- E-Verify is a FREE service to employers
- Enrolling requires EVERY new hire will be processed for EVERY position within the company
- Employers must ensure designated program administrator(s) are available to new hires within the first 3 days of hire
- It may not be used for prescreening applicants who have not been hired
- It does not provide employers safe harbor from worksite audits or investigations but if used correctly can offer additional documentation that demonstrates an employer commitment to comply with the law
- Employers must understand the scope of employer responsibilities related to potentially unfavorable E-Verify findings and employees’ rights to contest and have a process to comply with those responsibilities
E-Verify is a useful tool supported by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration (did I mention it’s FREE?). Its purpose is to electronically verify the employment eligibility of new hires and coordinate seamlessly with the Form I-9, making it a desirable tool for employers. With so much on an employer’s plate, it’s important to take note of federally approved services to increase compliance and reduce stress.