E-Verify is the online portal employers use to confirm new hires are eligible to work in the United States. While not all states mandate its use, there are pros and cons to E-Veriry that businesses should be aware of before using the system.

What is E-Verify

The Immigration and Control Act of 1986 introduced the requirement to check worker eligibility to be sure they are permitted to work in the United States. Within the first few days of hiring, employers open cases in the E-Verify online portal. They enter worker information using Form I-9, and the system cross-checks employee information against available records from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA).

Since the program first launched, requirements have shifted. Currently, E-Verify usage falls into four categories, primarily by state, so it’s important for organizations to know what’s required of them in the jurisdictions where they operate. Depending on where your business is located, E-Verify may be:

  • Mandatory for all businesses
  • Mandatory for public employers
  • Voluntary
  • Follow local jurisdiction standards

Case outcomes for E-Verify

For some queries, E-Verify eligibility can be determined as quickly as a few seconds. If all case information matches government records, employers can proceed with hiring their new workers. But that is only one of six outcomes employers may encounter. Others will need further documentation or investigation—or even require employers to find new workers if they are proven ineligible. 

Here are the six categories of outcomes employers may find when opening an E-Verify case:

  • Employment Authorized: All records will match and the employment will be authorized.
  • E-Verity Needs More Time: The case requires further investigation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
  • Tentative Nonconfirmation (Mismatch): Records did not match, and more action is required.
  • Case in Continuance: This result means the employee has contacted either a DHS or SSA field office, and more time is needed to verify employment. 
  • Close Case and Resubmit: Either DHS or SSA has requested that the original case be closed and a new case be opened for the employee. 
  • Final Nonconfirmation:  E-Verify can not confirm eligibility and closes the case, or the timeline for case handling has expired. 

Pros and cons of using E-Verify

Since E-Verify is not universally required in every US state, some employers must weigh the pros and cons of using the system. In the following two sections, we review some common benefits and drawbacks of using the E-Verify program. 

10 Pros of using E-Verify

  1. Increases the accuracy of worker eligibility verification: Given the vast and integrated information databases from the DHS and SSA, using E-Verify can provide employers with significant peace of mind that the worker verifications they receive are accurate.
  2. Accelerates the hiring process: With results in seconds, using E-Verify can greatly speed-up the hiring process by ensuring efficient worker verification. 
  3. Lessens the likelihood of getting Social Security mismatch letters. Mismatch letters can delay hiring and cause administrative burdens for businesses. This is less likely to happen when using E-Verify. 
  4. Lowers the likelihood of hiring workers ineligible to work in the United States: Checking the eligibility status in E-Verify greatly reduces the chance of employing workers who are not allowed to work in the country. 
  5. Simplifies photo matching: During the verification process, workers provide photo identification to prove their identity and address. Checking this against records already in the E-Verify system gives employers confidence that workers are who they say they are. 
  6. Minimizes likelihood of false mismatches when used properly: Careful entry of employee I-9 data combined with the digital uploads of verifying documents into E-Verify minimizes the chance of eligible employees being wrongfully flagged as ineligible. 
  7. Assists employers in staying compliant with local, state, and federal laws: Regulations change often and can be easy to miss. Using the E-Verify system means that employers will have easy access to the latest requirements with in-system notifications so they can remain compliant with the law. 
  8. Documents that employers are treating workers fairly when it comes to hiring non-native workers: Using the E-Verify system demonstrates that employers are operating in good faith and treating all workers equally when it comes to workplace eligibility. 
  9. Extends the worker eligibility period: When hiring foreign STEM workers (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), using the E-Verify system delays the need to file for a H1-B visa by 17 months, giving employers more eligibility time before having to dive into the visa application process. 

10 cons of using E-Verify

  1. I-9 audits. While E-Verify has many advantages, using it does not insulate companies from I-9 audits. Companies must still be vigilant and keep up with periodic internal audits, internal staff training, and develop a playbook/protocols to best comply with audits if they happen.
  2. Legal exposure: If workers lose their roles because E-Verify returned a false non-confirmation, companies might subject themselves to legal risk from workers, even if not done intentionally. 
  3. Hiring Delays: False non-confirmations can cause unwanted delays in the hiring process, preventing legally eligible workers from beginning work while the case is settled with USCIS and SSA.
  4. Case administration: Using E-Verify takes up valuable employer resources to manage case administration, including worker notifications of Further Action Notices.
  5. Government investigations: When companies use E-Verify, they may invite government scrutiny of company employment records. This can lead to employer penalties from non-compliance caused by mistakes or clerical errors. 
  6. Worker discrimination. The E-Verify system must only be used to verify new hires, and not to screen potential hires not yet on staff. However, having a powerful tool at their disposal may tempt some employers to discriminate against workers based on national origin or citizenship status.
  7. Employer burden: While generally simple to use, E-Verify does create an administrative burden for small businesses, many of whom may not have the needed expertise or resources to manage E-Verify cases.
  8. Data handling: Managing E-Verify cases obligates employers to properly manage and store sensitive employee documents used in the E-Verify verification process. This requires proper training and security protocols to ensure worker privacy is maintained and data is kept secure. 
  9. Organizational confusion: With different E-Verify requirements by jurisdiction, multi-state employers are forced to manage the resulting confusion and inconsistencies in the hiring process across their employee base.
  10. Ongoing training and vigilance: As with any government program, using E-Verify requires employers to stay up-to-date with changes to the program and train workers so they can remain compliant.

The takeaway

While the employee verification program called E-Verify is not mandatory in every US state, there are pros and cons to using it anyway. Benefits of E-Verify include rapid worker verification, lower chance of mismatch letters or of hiring ineligible workers, and it may even help extend the eligibility period should your business hire foreign STEM workers. Detractors note E-Verify isn’t all roses. Using it can open business records up to government scrutiny and create burdens for administration and ongoing training, including for proper handling of sensitive employee documents. 

With each state having different rules regarding the use of E-Verify, it’s essential for employers to look at the available program information and make the choice that’s right for them. 

Paulette Stout Author of her debut novel, Love, Only Better, Paulette Stout is the gold-star wordsmith and owner of her content marketing agency, Media Goddess Inc., where she crafts content for her list of global clients. Prior to MGI, Paulette led content and design teams at several tech companies, and one educational publisher where her elimination of the Oxford comma caused a near riot. You can usually find Paulette rearranging words into pleasing patterns while wearing grammar t-shirts. Connect with Paulette on Facebook and Instagram at @paulettestoutauthor and on Twitter at @StoutContent.
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