American businesses are learning the benefits of using the government’s E-Verify program even when it’s not required in an effort to ensure that the individuals hired are legally authorized to work in the United States. The free E-Verify program can provide employers with an extra level of protection against hiring unauthorized workers. This can be helpful in preventing a violation that could potentially come with serious consequences, such as hefty punitive fines.
E-Verify is a federal and internet-based system that compares data from multiple sources like the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and a person’s Form I-9 to confirm their employment eligibility. An employer who opens a case in E-Verify will either receive confirmation that an employee is authorized to work, or a flag that the case result warrants further action for compliance.
To make the most of your E-Verify experience, align with a professional I-9 expert to make sure your hiring process is working hard for you in your quest for compliance.
5 Reasons Why Companies Should Use E-Verify Even If It’s Not Required
The use of the E-Verify system is not universally required for all businesses in the United States, but a growing number of employers nationwide are choosing to enroll in the program for the extra peace of mind it offers. For many years there has been speculation that this would become a nationally mandated program, however, as of this writing only 23 states require employers (in some capacity) to utilize E-Verify.
The program is widely utilized by businesses due to being user friendly and providing relatively fast results to employers, but there are five additional reasons why to use E-Verify even if it’s not required.
- Helps employers adhere to government regulations. An employer that is not comfortable with the responsibility of authenticating identification documents on their own can find added assurance in E-Verify’s ability to do so via the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA).
- Enables a double check against government databases. Employers are tasked with authenticating the identification documents supplied by employees. Although it tends to be the exception, some employers may be given fraudulent identification documents such as social security cards that might not be obviously fraudulent at first glance. By comparing an individual’s card against the information kept in the Social Security Administration’s database, it can alert an employer of the potentially fraudulent card and therefore keep a costly Form I-9 violation from occurring.
- Limits hiring liability. With the checks and balances built into the E-Verify system, it helps limit the liability of who is being hired. By using the Form I-9 and E-Verify, employers should not have to fear unknowingly authenticating a fraudulent document because the system is designed to alert the employer before it becomes a compliance issue.
- Mitigates the risk of receiving No-Match Letters. Should the information provided by an employee not match that of the Department of Homeland Security or the Social Security Administration via E-Verify, the employer will receive a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC) result. From here, the employer must notify the employee that the individual has ten days from the issuance of the TNC to decide whether to take action. Using E-Verify can be instrumental in preventing social security number mismatches and reducing the risk of receiving a no-match letter that requires action to avoid risking a compliance violation.
- Shows the intent to go beyond minimum requirements should there be an audit. In the event of an audit by federal immigration officials, an employer’s willingness to use the free E-Verify program proactively may provide them with a certain level of protection. It shows they are committed to performing due diligence in their hiring process.
Logistically, at the end of the day one of the biggest benefits to using E-Verify is to confirm an employee’s eligibility to work is that it can identify an employee who on the surface seems to be eligible but is not, which can prevent the time and expense of training a worker who is unauthorized, as well as eliminate the legal complications of an enforcement proceeding.
Why Some Businesses Are Required to Use E-Verify
E-Verify is not universally required across all fifty states, but some states mandate that it be a part of the hiring process. At this point in time, each state is tasked with deciding what specific role E-Verify will play in their businesses’ hiring process.
There are three main reasons a business may be legally required to use E-Verify. The first is if they are being mandated to as the result of an official legal ruling. The second is if the company is participating in federal contracts or subcontracts with the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause. Lastly, if a company is operating within a state that mandates its businesses to participate in E-Verify, it must do so.
It can be highly beneficial to integrate the E-Verify program into the hiring process before it becomes mandated. Doing so allows the employer time to get accustomed to the system and test hiring procedures before regulatory penalties for E-Verify compliance become an issue.
What Is Needed to Use E-Verify?
If you have decided to use E-Verify even though it is not required, enrolling can be easy but does require some forethought in terms of who in the company will utilize it. For example, be clear on which company locations and hiring sites will access the system, as well as who within the company will have clearance to use the program.
The next step is to ensure that you have access to the information needed to begin enrollment. Business information you will need to have on hand includes the company’s employer identification number (EIN), physical address, mailing address, and the first three digits of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS).
With this information in hand, proceed to the official E-Verify website and enroll in the program.
The Convenience of Digital I-9 Software Combined with E-Verify
To verify an employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S., the two main tools provided by the federal government are the Form I-9 and E-Verify. E-Verify is not intended to replace the Form I-9, but rather supplement it. Digital I-9 software, as the name suggests, digitizes the Form I-9. This single feature can be effective in preventing common human error such as incomplete or empty fields in the form. Then the software can take the digital information and use it to auto populate E-Verify program fields.
This convenience not only saves the minutes of time it would take to retype all the information but can also help cut down on the number of human errors that can happen when manually transferring data from the Form I-9 to the E-Verify fields.
The key is to find an expert in I-9 compliance who is intimately familiar with employment verification laws that can provide you with digital software. It is essential for employers to perform due diligence before selecting a company’s digital I-9 compliance software.
What To Do If You’re Still Not Sure E-Verify Is for You
Enrolling in E-Verify is a big step for some employers, despite the obvious benefits. It does require learning a new system as well as continuity in training. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offers a wide spectrum of resources on E-Verify including user guides, webinars, and other presentations. Reviewing these materials may help you make the right decision for your company.
A professional company who is well versed in I-9 compliance and E-Verify can be an essential resource for your business. They are helpful in showing how the utilization of E-Verify could customize and streamline the hiring process. If you should ultimately decide to enroll and utilize digital I-9 software, partner with a company that is already poised to assist you with those changes.
In addition to reviewing the E-Verify program protocol, it is necessary to also take into account the consequences of not using the system at all. While it is possible to be I-9 compliant without using E-Verify, an employer may not be as protected in minimizing the occurrence of violations that could result in hefty civil or criminal penalties. Employers should take care to weigh the risk and the potential consequences before making this important decision.
The convenience and ability to streamline the hiring process is one of the top reasons modern companies know why to use E-Verify even if it’s not required. Completing the Form I-9 and using E-Verify is designed to give employers more confidence in employment authorization, and ultimately I-9 compliance.