Employment Eligibility Verification: What You Need to Know

As an employer you are intimately aware of the I-9 Form. But do you understand the complete picture of employment eligibility verification and your responsibilities under the law? The hidden complexities might surprise you.

The Employment Eligibility Verification I-9 Form is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and used by employers to verify the identity and work authorization or eligibility for U.S. workers. According to the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, all individuals hired after November 6, 1986 are subject to employment eligibility verification requirements.

Responsibility falls on you, the employer, to ensure that the I-9 form is completed properly and in a timely manner. Employers who hire or continue to employ individuals knowing that they are not authorized to work in the United States face potentially significant civil and criminal penalties, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Penalties also exist for employers who fail to keep proper I-9 records.

E-Verify Enables Instant Verification of Work Authorization

Making the employment eligibility verification process easier was the introduction of E-Verify as a basic pilot program in 1997. The program has since expanded to a free Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees (both U.S. citizens and foreign citizens with necessary authorizations) to work in the United States. As of 2010, more than 216,700 employers were enrolled in E-Verify.

E-Verify works by comparing the information an employee provides on the I-9 form against millions of government records and provides near instant results. If the information matches, that employee is eligible to work in the United States. If there’s a mismatch, E-Verify will alert the employer and the employee will be allowed to work while he or she resolves the problem within a limited number of days.

An important advantage of E-Verify is that employers gain peace of mind from a “rebuttable presumption” that they are in compliance with Form I-9 and employment eligibility laws.

Most employers in Arizona and Mississippi are required to use E-Verify. E-Verify is also mandatory for employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the Federal Acquisition Regulation E-Verify clause. Many other states are beginning to adopt laws regarding the requirement and prohibition of E-Verify. For example Georgia requires all public employers and government contractors to use E-Verify. Mississippi requires all employers to use E-Verify for new hires. South Carolina, Rhode Island, Georgia, and Colorado also have specific rules for employers in those states.

Even with E-Verify, the Process of Employment Eligibility Verification is Fraught with Complexity

While E-Verify has certainly simplified the employment eligibility verification process, it does not solve the array of challenges that come with an employer’s obligation to verify.

Employers must:

  • Inform all applicants of the employer’s participation in E-Verify
  • Use E-Verify without regard to national origin or citizenship status
  • Ensure that all required fields on the I-9 Form are completed before the form is submitted
  • Provide the E-Verify written notice to every employee who receives a tentative nonconfirmation (TNC)
  • Provide the E-Verify referral letter to every employee who contests the TNC
  • Give the employee eight federal work days to initiate contact with the appropriate federal agency to begin resolving the TNC
  • Secure the privacy of the employee’s personal information and the password used to access E-Verify
  • Ensure due process and fair treatment for all employees, regardless of the E-Verify outcomes
  • Effectively store I-9 forms and supporting documentation
  • Enable access to any I-9 Form or supporting documentation for review at anytime
  • Monitor re-verifications and maintain a consistent routine to purge I-9 forms for terminated employees 3 years after hired or one year after termination, whichever is later

Add these challenges the numerous others you face as an employer and you can only hope for a simple solution. To accomplish this, many experts recommend that employers utilize their existing employment screening provider and simply integrate I-9 eligibility requirements into the general background screening workflow. Doing so gives employers a single source solution for the entire employment screening and verification process.

We offer this “single source” benefit through a web-based portal that gives you a direct link to E-Verify with supporting functionality and services to easily address the challenges that surround the verification process. Learn about Audit Advantage Employment Eligibility Verification and the employment screening services offered by Proforma.

About Michael Gaul

A security industry professional since 1988, Michael has extensive expertise in the fields of human capital risk management, physical security, and background screening process management. Michael leads Proforma’s sales, marketing, and strategic customer relations efforts.
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