Participation and Usage of E-Verify Expected to Grow Significantly with Major Implications for Employers
The E-Verify program (formerly known as Basic Pilot) is a Web-based system that electronically verifies the employment eligibility of newly hired employees. This initiative is a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency in DHS responsible for immigration services, administers the program. The USCIS acting director predicted in a recent Congressional testimony (June 10, 2008) that participation and usage of E-Verify will grow significantly over the next few years with major implications for U.S. employers.
Federal Government Sees E-Verify As Contributing to Maintaining A Legal Workforce Despite Concerns Over the System’s Accuracy
E-Verify is an essential tool for employers committed to maintaining a legal workforce. Any participating company in the United States can access E-Verify through a user-friendly government Web site that compares employee information taken from the Form I-9 with more than 449 million records in the SSA database, and more than 60 million records in DHS immigration databases. Currently, 99.5 percent of all work-authorized employees verified through E-Verify are verified without receiving a Tentative Non-confirmation (TNC) or having to take any type of corrective action. Those employees whose work authorization cannot be instantly verified are given the opportunity to work with SSA or USCIS, as appropriate, to confirm their work authorization. USCIS estimates one percent of all queried employees choose to contest an initial, tentative result from E-Verify showing that their work authorization could not be verified, and only half of those who contest that result are ultimately found to be authorized. The most recent statistics appear to show that the share of legal workers who are not instantly confirmed by E-Verify as work authorized is decreasing further, but those numbers need more study. Furthermore, USCIS plans to add the ability to query using passport information this fall, which will reduce the rate of TNCs for U.S. citizens further, and is also working to add visa and passport photos to the photo tool function.
Mandatory Use of E-Verify Increasing
Over 69,000 employers, representing over 269,000 worksites, currently are signed up to use the E-Verify program, and the number of registered employers is growing on average over 1,000 per week.
Since 2006, the number of employers registered has doubled in size each year. We have seen a substantial increase in the number of states with legislation or Executive Orders that require E-Verify use for some or all employers under their jurisdiction. Arizona and Mississippi have laws requiring all employers in the state to use E-Verify; and Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, Oklahoma, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Utah require some employers to use E-Verify. A directive issued last year from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) required all Federal government agencies to sign up to use E-Verify by October 1, 2007. Last August, the Administration pledged to commence a rulemaking process to require all Federal contractors and vendors to use E-Verify and OMB recently concluded its review on this proposed rule. On June 6, the President signed Executive Order 12989 directing the Secretary of Homeland Security to designate an electronic employment eligibility verification system for Federal contractors to use. Yesterday [June 9, 2008], the Secretary designated E-Verify as the system Federal contractors shall use.
Additionally, in the past few months a number of DHS regulations were published that require employers to register with E-Verify before obtaining certain benefits. These include (1) a regulation enabling certain F-1 students in Optional Practical Training to apply for a 17-month extension of their employment authorization if they are employed by an E-Verify registered employer and (2) the proposed rule reforming the H-2A agricultural worker program, would allow H-2A workers who are changing employers to begin work with the new employer before the change is approved only if the new employer participates in E-Verify.
From Written Testimony of Jonathan Scharfen, USCIS Acting Director, before the House Committee on the Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, June 10, 2008.
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Disclaimer: The content of this blog does not constitute direct legal advice and is designed for informational purposes only. Information provided through this website should never replace the need for involving informed counsel on your employment and immigration issues.