E-Verify Self Check – how it works and what to watch for

E-Verify Self Check – how it works and what to watch for

The latest innovation in employment immigration law by the Federal Government  immigration law is the free program run by the Federal government called E-Verify (also known as Self Check), an internet based system designed to give workers online access to their employment eligibility information before they apply for a job.  The benefit is that workers can correct any issues or errors in their eligibility status prior to a problem arising, thus saving time and paperwork along the way.  But as with any automated online system, fraud has become a major concern for workers, employers, and the government.

The E-Verify program began in 1997 as a pilot program along with several other programs that tried to prevent undocumented aliens from being hired.  The E-Verify program is now operated by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.  Several states require it for certain state agencies, but employers across the nation can voluntarily participate.  Currently, more than 240,000 employers use E-Verify, with more than 1,400 new employers being added every week.


How E-Verify Self Check Works

The online system compares an employee’s Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 to data contained in United States government records. When the information matches, the employee is eligible to work in the United States. When there is a non-match, E-Verify Self Check notifies the employer or employee (depending on who submitted the check), and the employee is allowed to work temporarily until the issue is resolved.  The employee must contact the correct agency within eight days to address the problem.

Use of E-Verify

Since 2007, all Federal agencies have been required to use the system, and several state governments require it now as well. However, participation in E-Verify is still voluntary for most employers. One noted controversy is that since some states are beginning to require employers to use E-Verify, employment practices will vary from state to state.

However, if you wish to use E-Verify, when an employee is hired, a Form I-9 must be completed. The information from this Form is then entered into E-Verify, where it is compared against millions of government records to confirm eligibility for employment. Since 2007, biometric data has also been used in the program, and the Federal government has been considering cross referencing states driver’s license records as further checks on eligibility status.

There are several ways foreign workers can obtain permission to work in the United States, such as through practical training programs for students and workers, including the H-1B Visa program.


Fraud concerns with E-Verify

A major controversy arose when states, such as Arizona, passed laws requiring all employers state-wide to use E-Verify for all employees.  Many disapprove, noting that there are still fraud concerns that should be addressed before requiring all employers to participate in E-Verify.  A December 2010 study by the Government Accountability Office confirmed that the program is susceptible to identity fraud due to internal problems, as well as the ability for employees to borrow or even steal legitimate documents from others and mistakenly be confirmed as eligible to work.

To learn more about immigration law and E-Verify Self Check, contact The Law Firm of Annapolis. We provide immigration law services in the Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland areas.