By: Katie Minervino
Am I complying with applicable laws requiring E-Verify use?
E-Verify is an online service administered by the federal government that allows employers to run information about new hires through Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration databases to attempt to verify work authorization.
In the absence of comprehensive federal immigration reform, and particularly in the face of high levels of unemployment, states and local governments are stepping hard into the employment verification debate. A number of states, counties and municipalities have passed laws that mandate use of the otherwise voluntary E-Verify program.
E-Verify laws warrant a close and careful look by all employers to determine when, if and how E-Verify mandates may affect them. Employers already using E-Verify should confirm they are making any necessary updates to their program use to meet state requirements (for example, adding hiring sites in affected states, if they are currently only using E-Verify in other locations).
Currently only certain federal contractors are required to use E-Verify under federal law. More expansive legislation that would require E-Verify use by all employers has been introduced in both the House and the Senate, but such federal requirements are not currently in effect.
Does my company have a contract that includes an E-Verify provision?
Employers should be monitoring all federal contractors for an E-Verify clause. Additionally, state contractors are also increasingly required to use the program, and private employers are now including immigration compliance provisions to the terms of service contracts that include required use of E-Verify now or in the future. Employers should review all contracts for any language that may require their use of the program.
If my company will be required to use E-Verify, what steps should we be taking now to prepare?
Employers should note any upcoming deadlines for required use of E-Verify. A company facing an upcoming E-Verify requirement should familiarize itself with the E-Verify Memorandum of Understanding, notice and employer requirements of the program, and make internal decisions and designations about how the program will be administered and by whom. Before the internal start date of E-Verify use, a company should plan to train appropriate human resource professionals and update its employment verification compliance policy to reference and incorporate its use of E-Verify.
Should my company voluntarily enroll in E-Verify to avoid the burden of monitoring local and state developments?
As states and local governments continue to pass E-Verify laws, employers must closely and regularly monitor specific requirements where they do business. Multi-state employers may consider nation-wide voluntary participation in the program to avoid the burden of complying with varying state requirements, depending on the employer’s views relating to the program and ability to satisfy E-Verify requirements.
How well does my company currently comply with employment verification requirements?
Most companies are aware of the federal requirement that companies verify the employment authorization of new hires by completing Form I-9. Employers should evaluate current employment verification compliance practices and consider a self-audit to confirm the employer’s Form I-9s are properly prepared and retained.
E-Verify is a supplement to, not a replacement for, the current I-9 verification system. Employers currently enrolled in E-Verify must still fulfill all obligatory employment verification requirements under current federal law, such as completing and retaining Form I-9. Employers considering enrolling in E-Verify should confirm they are currently meeting all federal employment verification requirements before undertaking additional responsibilities and requirements relating to E-Verify.
For more information, employers can contact Tony Derosby or Katie Minervino.
This alert was also published as a guest blog post on the E-Verify & I-9 News blog.