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What is E-Verify?

E-Verify is a free service provided by the U.S government for designated agents and employers to access U.S. employment-eligibility records via the Internet. E-Verify evolved in 2006 from the Basic Pilot Program established by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).  Its goal is to enhance the employer’s ability to accurately determine a new hire’s employment eligibility in the U.S.

Since its inception, E-Verify has grown significantly and now allows any individual to self-check his/her eligibility for employment in the U.S. online.   It also has a searchable employer database for the public to see which employers are enrolled in E-Verify.  Recently, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) partnered with E-Verify for the “RIDE” initiative. This enhancement to the E-Verify program allows the employer to verify the validity of the driver’s license and ID card information by matching the data entered by the employer, against participating state motor vehicle department records.  RIDE is an additional step to ensure against document fraud in the U.S. employment verification process.

Note that E-Verify doesn’t exempt an employer from the I-9 process, in fact, it is an additional requirement because the employer needs to log on to the E-Verify website and verify a new hire’s eligibility for employment, in addition to completing the I-9 process.

Potential benefit of enrollment in E-Verify  

As an overall benefit, E-Verify does give an employer assurance that a new hire is work authorized in the U.S., however there are instances where the E-Verify system may indicate that the new hire is not work authorized, and additional steps to will need to be taken to remedy any errors.

As an employer, if you are considering hiring an F-1 student who has a U.S. degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (“STEM”), enrollment in E-Verify may enable the F-1 student to gain an additional 17-month period of employment authorization, in addition to the standard optional practical training (OPT) employment authorization available after the student graduates.

What are you required to do to enroll in E-Verify?

Signing up for E-Verify requires the employer to go to the website, agree to the terms for enrollment and input the necessary information.  Once an employer is enrolled in the E-Verify system, any new hire will need to be verified within three days of hire in the system.  There is a wealth of information on enrollment and the obligations of the employer on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website: http://www.uscis.gov/e-verify.

As of now, there is speculation that E-Verify will become mandatory for all employers, but currently, only employers who have government contracts and have offices in certain states are obligated to enroll.  E-Verify is still a choice for many employers, but for many employers who hire foreign workers with degrees that fall within “STEM”, it may be a worthwhile option to explore.

Written by Barbara Wong
SW Law Group, P.C.