Employers are required, under federal law, to verify employment status with Form I-9, “Employment Eligibility Verification.” When submitting this form, employees also must produce certain legal documents — such as a driver’s license, a Social Security card and/or a visa — to prove they’re eligible to work in the United States. But dishonest workers sometimes use fake or stolen IDs to get hired.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created the E-Verify system to help employers comply with the law. This system is currently voluntary for private sector employers in most states. But that could soon change.
How Does It Work?
E-Verify is a free online system that compares information from an employee’s Form I-9 to data from DHS and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility. More than 600,000 employers currently use E-Verify to verify employment status.
The process is generally simple: You enter information from an employee’s work authorization documents on a form online. Then, the system generates: 1) a confirmation of the consistency of the data, or 2) a temporary nonconfirmation (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. But if an employee fails to resolve the issue or appeal the TNC within eight days, the system generates a “final nonconfirmation” report. Then you must 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’s 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. (Please contact your employment law advisor for the latest information on the bill.)
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’re required to use it, E-Verify can offer extra peace of mind that you’re in compliance.