Should I enroll in E-Verify?

By Jennifer Pawlak

Thanks for stopping by to check out my third E-Verify missive! Maybe you came here to, once and for all, get a definitive “yes” or “no” on the question above. Well, unfortunately, I’m not going to give you that satisfaction, but I do want you to arm you with a few facts and figures to help you better make that decision. (Of course, if your state, municipality, or a federal contract requires enrollment in E-Verify, you need to follow those rules first.)

Fun fact: E-Verify follows Central Time for its processing. So if you’re on the West Coast and it’s your third day of processing, just know that you have to get the case in by 11:59 Central Time.

Without any further ado, consider the following:

  • Nearly 99% of cases verified through E-Verify receive “work authorized” results and are simple open-and-shut cases! The longest part of the process may be hunting down your username and password. Additional statistics on E-Verify performance can be found here.
  • If you intend to employ students who are in STEM fields and will be applying to extend their Optional Practical Training (OPT), then you must be enrolled in E-Verify. Once enrolled, ALL new employees must be run through the system. Chances are, these individuals have already asked you to enroll! This is a great opportunity to employ students in these fields without needing to sponsor them for an H-1B or other work authorization (at least in the short term!).
  • Sometimes the SSA database is wrong. This can be due to typos, not updating a SSN after a name change, or other errors. In a very small amount of cases, this results in legal workers being denied employment. It is fixable, but is burdensome and annoying for employee and employer alike.
  • Conversely, E-Verify cannot necessarily detect when an unauthorized worker presents valid documents that have been altered. This can result in improper authorization results for someone who is not actually authorized.
  • Merely participating in E-Verify does not give you safe harbor from I-9 audits and inspections. In fact, the Monitoring and Compliance unit at DHS is able to use E-Verify data to detect patterns and trends and can use that data to specifically start an investigation, armed with information they might not have previously had.
  • On the flip side, using E-Verify does create the “rebuttable presumption” that your organization has not violated I-9 rules.

Let me end with a reminder that E-Verify is NOT a substitute for completing Form I-9 for each employee.

What are your questions about E-Verify? Are you enrolled? Do you love it? Do you hate it?

Up next: What’s happening with mandatory E-Verify?

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