All employers need to be aware of the revised 2021 E-Verify mandates to ensure compliance, especially if operating across state lines. Requirements are changing frequently and penalties for non-compliance can include monetary fines per violation and denial, suspension, or revocation of an employer’s business license. While not every U.S. employer is required to use the E-Verify program, it is critical that employers educate themselves on how the program works and if it is mandatory in their state(s) of operation.
How E-Verify Works
E-Verify is a government sponsored web-based program which is designed to compare information gathered from an employee when completing the Form I-9 against other federal agency databases, such as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). This quick database comparison can produce results in as little as three to five seconds. At the time of its rollout, E-Verify was largely a voluntary program, however, it has grown in popularity as it is widely considered an added layer of protection for employers in verifying an employee’s identity and work eligibility in the U.S. However, employers should note that the E-Verify program will not perform a criminal background check on their employees. Separate operational processes should be in place to handle this review.
Who Do the New 2021 E-Verify Mandates Apply To?
As of 2021, the list of states and their mandates for the E-Verify program continues to grow. The new changes can be broken down as follows:
States requiring at least some employers to use the E-Verify program:
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
State contractors only are mandated to use E-Verify in:
States where E-Verify requirements exist for local municipalities:
- New York
Public employers only are required to use E-Verify in:
Contractors and/or public employers working with the state must use E-Verify in:
As is illustrated above, E-Verify requirements can vary widely from one state to another and often are based on the number of people employed within a business. When operating across state lines, it is a good practice to implement the E-Verify process across all business locations, even if it is not required by the law to ensure consistency for all work sites and to avoid the appearance of discriminatory employment practices.
E-Verify Is Not Yet Mandatory for All Employers
For many, E-Verify use is not mandatory, unless a company is:
- Ordered to use E-Verify per an official legal ruling
- Operating in a state that requires employers to participate
- Participating in federal contracts or subcontracts containing the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause
Although E-Verify may not be required for all businesses, companies located in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of Northern Marina Islands are eligible to use the program.
Enrolling in E-Verify
There are a few different options for enrolling in E-Verify which include Employer Access, E-Verify Employer Agent Access, and Corporate Administrator Access.
The E-Verify enrollment and onboarding process may include signing a program agreement and participating in mandatory web training to ensure maximum understanding and effective use of the program. To ensure every step is followed to the letter, new companies enrolling in the program are encouraged to visit the E-Verify website for additional information and an instructional webinar.
Digital I-9 Compliance Software is a Valuable Resource for E-Verify
When it comes to E-Verify, many businesses are increasingly turning to the use of digital I-9 compliance software for help in streamlining the process. This can be particularly critical as much of the input used for the Form I-9 is used to create an E-Verify record for each employee at the time of hire, reducing the need for retyping information into E-Verify and therefore lowering the risk of making errors. In addition, reliable I-9 compliance software can send E-Verify alerts of required employer actions and track the status on any cases that may be left open or unresolved in the system.
Review the new 2021 E-Verify mandates in detail and consider implementing digital I-9 compliance software to ensure you are effectively managing your compliance requirements and minimizing your company’s liabilities.