[Editor’s Note: today’s post is brought to you by guest blogger Katie Nokes Minervino, Associate Attorney in the Immigration Group at Pierce Atwood LLP. Katie assists employers and employees in employment authorization needs and provides clients with support and guidance on employment verification requirements, best practices, and audit response.]
E-Verify is the federal government’s current foray into electronic verification of employment authorization of US workers that functions as a complement to— not a replacement for — the traditional paper-based Form I-9 employment verification system. Over the past few years, many employers have found themselves in a “sink or swim” situation as they have been forced into this otherwise optional program by laws mandating their use. Others have voluntarily enrolled in the program. The remaining majority are now finding themselves teetering at the edge wondering whether or not to take the plunge.
E-Verify: Who Should Jump Right In
Businesses required by law should enroll in E-Verify and structure their participation to comply with applicable laws and the terms of the program. Currently many employers are required by state or local law to enroll in E-Verify, and all signs indicate that this trend will continue. Certain federal contractors are also required to use E-Verify. Further, multi-state corporations may consider enrolling nationally to avoid facing the moving target of state-by-state compliance and the associated burden as new state laws are passed. Employers who have previously been the subject of an I-9 audit and related fines should also strongly consider enrolling in the program.
E-Verify: Who Should Stay on Shore
E-Verify use has its drawbacks. These include employer-borne costs of training personnel and allocating resources to correctly administer the program, the addition of an extra step in the hiring process, and the risk of a “false positive” for a new hire that may raise an unnecessary red flag that requires corrective action. For companies with limited HR resources or who would face significant burdens in regularly accessing the online program not required or otherwise inclined to enroll, the costs will not likely justify the benefits. Some employers simply do not want to participate in the “voluntary” program, and can elect this approach unless otherwise required to enroll.
E-Verify: Who Should Test the Waters
As the program is currently structured, employers have options in how they use E-Verify, including limiting use for new hires at only one (or a handful) of hiring sites. Enrolling in the program for use at a single hiring location, for example, does not trigger a nation-wide E-Verify use requirement for all hiring sites of a given company. While E-Verify is imperfect, the federal government has put significant resources into the program and more and more states are imposing E-Verify requirements. Odds are good that most employers will need to at least consider participation at some point in the future.
Enrolling in E-Verify on a limited basis is a good option for employers with the necessary resources to properly administer the program who may otherwise be on the fence. Choosing to participate at one hiring site provides an opportunity to gain familiarity with the program and complete the necessary training and registration on the employer’s own timeline. E-Verify experience may also provide a competitive edge when competing for business. Companies are increasingly adding employment verification compliance provisions to service contracts, which may include current (or perhaps future) E-Verify use. Putting “a toe in the water” provides companies negotiating such contracts an advantage over companies that are not familiar with or currently contemplating at least limited use of the program.
No matter their current E-Verify enrollment status, all US employers should continue to monitor E-Verify related developments to acquire a general understanding of program requirements and any pertinent compliance deadlines.
Disclaimer: The content of this website is for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances, nor does it create attorney-client privilege. This blog should never replace the need for involving informed counsel on your employment and immigration issues.