With the U.S. juggling an economic crisis, military actions abroad, and healthcare reform, immigration issues have got a back seat going back year or so. Therefore e-Verify legislation, long a center of discussion and controversy, will not be receiving just as much attention lately. However, as employment and immigration set out to take center stage from the national discourse again, worker authorization verification will again be a hot topic.
Employers and HR professionals should pay close attention to the news on e-Verify. Utilization of the program continues to be technically voluntary for most private businesses. However, it’s becoming a de-facto necessity for companies that need to protect themselves from compliance risks. ICE best practices place e-Verify within a pivotal role to make it clear that employers that don’t use this free, web-based verification system will probably be considered lax in their adherence to immigration law.
Here’s an overview of recent legislation along with other pertinent news surrounding e-Verify:
September, 2009: The mandated use of e-Verify for contractors using the services of the federal government goes into effect. Over 165,000 organizations are impacted.
October, 2009: Congress agrees to fund e-Verify for 3 more years towards the tune of $43 billion total. Funds will probably be used to ensure federal contractors comply with the new rules and (hopefully) fix a number of the shortcomings that still plague it. The current error rate of 3-4% as well as the failure to handle worker identity fraud are top concerns.
December, 2009: The Westat report is done (with results released towards the public during the early 2010). It shows a startling 54% error rate for authorizing workers who needs to have been flagged from the system for further investigation. The report does mention that the variety of unauthorized workers slipping through the cracks constituted only 3.3% with the total population reviewed from the study.
March, 2010: USCIS as well as the DHS join forces to aid curtail misuse and discrimination by employers who use e-Verify incorrectly. For example the creation of new training materials for employers plus a hotline for employees who may have questions about their rights in relation to e-Verify.
April, 2010: Currently, 21 states have either implemented legislation or have legislation pending in connection with use of e-Verify. These constitute a mish-mash of regulations and rules for private and public employers and also state contractors. Some states, like Arizona, require all employers to use the system. On the other hand, Illinois is strongly resisting using e-Verify. The constitutionality of some laws is expected to be reviewed from the Supreme Court.
Current: The USCIS intends to enhance e-Verify and reduce fraud by adding photos from U.S. passports towards the photo tool database. The system will probably set out to incorporate state DL information at some point in the future. Biometric data doubles for verification in the event the technology and implementation might be worked out. A few of the funding designated in October is known to support these initiatives.
Should Employers Use e-Verify Voluntarily?
Over 192,000 employers make use of the e-Verify system currently. This online system can streamline I9 verification significantly for organizations of all sizes. Employers who apply it correctly have a greatly decreased risk of fines and penalties in case of an ICE audit.
Accessibility program cost nothing; but training must ensure an employer’s I9 administrator and HR employees follow federal guidelines for usage. For example, e-Verify is employed only after a staff member is hired. All tentative non-confirmations of eligibility status have to be investigated and confirmed before any negative action is taken against a staff member who is flagged from the system. The e-Verify program is simplest for HR to use appropriately if it’s interfaced with new hire on boarding software such as the Universal On boarding solution with the I9 management option.
For more information on Identitiy Investigation.