Q. What is E-Verify?
A. E-Verify is the federal government's on-line website that employers can use to determine the eligibility of their newly hired employees to work in the U.S.
Q. Why should I use E-Verify if it's not yet mandatory to do so in my location?
A. E-Verify grants employers safe harbor from prosecution if through no fault of their's, receive an incorrect eligibility confirmation.
Q. Do employers who use E-Verify have to check the work authorization status only of immigrants?
A. No. Employers or their E-Verify Employer Agent must check the authorization status of ALL new workers hired. THERE ARE NO EXEPTIONS.
Q. Can employers check the work authorization status of existing workers?
A. Under current law, employers who are not in contract with the federal government may not check the status of existing workers - only new hires. However, employers that are awarded certain contracts from the federal government known as contract with the FAR Clause (Federal Acquisition Regulation) must check the status of all employees involved in the contract, but may elect to check the status of all employees including those not involved with the federal contract (if you don't know what the FAR Clause is, it doesn't apply to you).
Q. What is an E-Verify Employer Agent?
A. An E-Verify Employer Agent is someone who is authorized by the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) to be contracted by an employer to do the on-line queries using the federal E-Verify program to determine whether a newly hired worker is authorized to work in the U.S.
Q. Does an E-Verify Employer Agent work for the DHS.
A. No. E-Verify Employer Agents are non-political neutral parties providing a business service for profit -- as such, Employer Agents look after the interests of their clients.
Q. How does someone qualify to be an Employer Agent?
A. All applicants for becoming an E-Verify Employer Agent must be background checked, must register with the DHS, study a voluminous manual and pass a lengthy on-line "Mastery" test.
Q. Can't Employers do their own worker verifications using E-Verify?
A. Yes, if they so choose. Many corporations with large numbers of workers with fully staffed Human Resource Departments may appoint one of their own employees as an E-Verify administrator to manage the program, but many employers, even large employers with federal contracts find it more convenient and cost saving to use an E-Verify Employer Agent.
Q. What type of Employers opt to use an E-Verify Employer Agent?
A. Employers who don't have or don't want access to high speed Internet or employers who simply don't want the responsibility and/or fuss with the time consuming task of verifying workers. Using an E-Verify Employer Agent relieves the company from having to train internal staff in the E-Verify procedure. Any number of internal employees can be appointed to process I-9s without the necessity of each having a separate user name and password and each having to pass the online mastery test. Businesses that use an E-Verify Employer Agent can designate any one of their employees to coordinate with the E-Verify agent. Businesses that benefit from outsourcing to an E-Verify Employer Agent are commonly Manufacturers, Federal Contractors, Building Contractors, Restaurants, Motels, Hotels, employers with high worker turnover, and employers of all categories that simply don't want the bother of doing it themselves.
Q. It's federal law that all businesses must fill a Form I-9 on any new hire whether they use E-Verify or not, so what more must a business do if they are an E-Verify participant?
A. Nothing! Only send a copy of the filled I-9 to the agent. The agent does the rest.
Q. How does the business send the copy of the I-9 to the agent?
A. The business securely uploads the copy of the I-9 by clicking on a link provided on the agent's web page.
Q. Can a small low-tech Mama-Papa business with limited email capability use an E-Verify Employer Agent?
A. Yes. Although archaic, the I-9 can be faxed. NOTE: E-Verify periodically sends updated information by email not fax, thus you or your company cannot be registered or participate in E-Verify unless you have a personal or company email address. If faxing is your preference instead of email, you will still need a computer and an email address. Email access does not have to be at your business - it can be your home computer.
Q. If an employer uses an authorized E-Verify Employer Agent, does that employer have to register with the DHS?
A. Yes. But the E-Verify Employer Agent attends to all the details of registering the employer with the DHS and maintains all the registration records on behalf of the client employer
Q. Can an employer pre-screen a new hire?
A. No. The employer must fill out a Form I-9 on the worker which includes the hire date, before an Employer agent can check the new worker's work authorization status. But a job seeker may do a Self Check on their own employment status. However, a job seeker who passes the self check does not waive the necessity for an employer to still do an E-Verify work authorization check.
Q. When does the Employer Agent have to do an on-line check of the work authorization status of a new hire?
A. I-9s must be completed by both the employer and the applicant after the applicant accepts a job offer. The I-9 must be submitted for work authorization within three government business days from the first day of employment. The first day of employment is the first paid day. For example, if the I-9 is completed by both the employer and the applicant on August 10, but the applicant's first paid day will be August 12, then August 12 is considered the first day of employment (also referred to as the Hire Date). In this example, the three day rule would not start until August 12 - but an E-Verify authorization query may be run on August 10 (the same day the I-9 is completed.) While the employer's E-Verify Agent may run the E-Verify query on August 10, the agent must initiate a query within three government business days from the date that is considered the first day of employment - in this example, August 12.
Q. How long must an employer retain a Form I-9 on a worker?
A. There must be a Form I-9 on file with the employer for ALL employees whether new hires or existing employees. When a worker's employment is terminated for any reason, the employer must retain the Form I-9 for that worker either for three (3) years after the date of hire or for one (1) year after employment is terminated, whichever is later.
Q. Wow! That Form I-9 looks complicated. Will filling out the Form I-9 burden employers with a lot of red tape?
A. The Form I-9 isn't new. Employers have for many years been already burdened with Form I-9. Employers who haven't been retaining Form I-9s, have been in violation of federal law.
Q. Can an action be taken against an employer if the federal government finds that that employer has not been keeping I-9 Forms on file for its employees?
A. An employer who has not been keeping I-9 forms on its employees is vulnerable to an audit. But usually no action will be taken against an employer if the employer gives workers another opportunity to present acceptable documentation and complete the Form I-9 -- BUT MAY NOT DO AN E-Verify QUERY ON THAT WORKER. NOTE: if employers know or should have known that a worker is unauthorized to work in the United States, that employer may be subject to serious penalties by the DHS for "knowingly CONTINUING to employ" an unauthorized worker.
Q. Do employers have to check the work authorization of their independent sub contractors?
A. No. -- But it is advisable that E-Verify users not contract with sub-contractors who don't use E-Verify. The federal government may take action against an employer if that employer knows or should have known that an independent contractor used illegal labor. For added protection, it's advisable for employers to require its independent sub contractors to sign affidavits declaring that they use E-Verify for their own employee verifications.
Q. Does entering into the E-Verify program make employers vulnerable to warrantless searches?
A. No. But upon request, all Forms I-9s which are subject to retention requirements, must be made available to an authorized official of the DHS, Department of Labor, and/or the Office of Special Council for Unfair Immigration-Related Employment Practices for the Department of Justice -- provided that the employer is given three days' notice prior to a work-site inspection -- regardless of whether or not employers use E-Verify. No subpoena or warrant is required.
Q. What other information will the employer be burdened with?
A. The only information necessary for the Employer Agent to verify a U.S. citizen applicant's work authorization status is fully contained in the Form I-9, a copy of which is faxed or uploaded by the employer to the Employer Agent. For non-U.S. citizens, a copy of the work authorization document containing the worker's photo (for example, a green card) must also be provided and be an overlay match to a photo downloaded from the Dept of Homeland Security.
Q. Who must make the comparison of the photo image of the new hire which is downloaded from the DHS, to the photo on the Green Card document or other work authorization document presented by non-citizen worker applicants at the time of the E-Verify query?
A. Employers who administer their own E-Verify program are required to make image comparisons. Employers using Employer Agents must upload, email attach, or fax a copy of the applicant's photo (photo which is on green card or other work authorization document) to their Employer Agent for comparison with photo on file with the DHS.
Q. Why should an employer have an Employer Agent create a free account if that employer doesn't anticipate any need to hire anyone for some time to come?
A. Some startup companies that anticipate that their future clients will require them to use E-Verify, may want to advertise to them that they are an E-Verify participant (even though they haven't yet become staffed with workers.)
Q. How soon after initiating an E-Verify query will the Employer Agent know if the new worker is authorized to work?
A. Within seconds of submitting the Form I-9 information on-line -- provided that the employer is already signed on to the E-Verify program through the Employer Agent.
Q. How long does it take the E-Verify Employer Agent to register the client company?
A. One day - it can even be done on non-business days such as federal holidays
Q. Can an employer fire a new hire if the Employer Agent informed the employer that the worker was initially flagged as unauthorized?
A. No. The worker must be given an opportunity to contest the discrepancy. But if the worker signs a termination form in which the worker does not contest the discrepancy, then the worker can be terminated. If an employee turns the job offer down on the spot or doesn't show up for work, then the case is resolved by default -- the worker is assumed to have self terminated. The information in all cases (whether the worker is authorized or not) must be resolved. All resolved cases must be filed with the DHS.
Q. Where does the employer get all the forms necessary for the E-Verify program.
A. All forms are provided by the Employer Agent via U.S. Mail, fax or email.
Q. What must the employer do if the Employer Agent finds that a worker who is initially flagged as unauthorized, contests the finding?
A. The Employer Agent must direct the employer in providing the worker with SSA (Social Security Administration) and/or DHS, contact information and allow that worker eight government business days to correct any discrepancies. If a worker cannot prove within the eight government business days that he/she is authorized to work, then the Employer Agent must make a final E-Verify resubmission. If the DHS makes a final Non-Confirmation, then the employer may fire the worker.
Q. Isn't the process for a legitimate worker to clear his/her record when tentatively found non-confirmed very burdensome?
A. While it may be an inconvenience, it is better for the worker to correct the record now, than wait until reaching the age of 65 to find that he/she hasn't been credited for decades of work.
Q. Once a worker has cleared the E-Verify query, can an employer fire the worker for a valid reason such as being drunk?
A. Yes. Employers can fire workers for the same valid reasons they have always fired them.
Q. Can an employer be held responsible for hiring an un-authorized worker, if E-Verify indicated that the worker was authorized?
A. No. In fact, the best insurance for an employer to not be accused of hiring an illegal worker, is to use an Employer Agent to run the Form I-9 information supplied by the worker and employer through the E-Verify database. In that way, the employer is completely free of the responsibility of "knowingly" hiring an illegal worker.
Q. Must an employer or Employer Agent report a worker suspected of being an illegal immigrant to the DHS?
A. No. The employer can only fire the worker under the proper procedure as directed by the Employer Agent, but is not allowed to report the worker to authorities.
Q. Is it true that E-Verify makes an unacceptable amount of mistakes by erroneously flagging legal workers as unauthorized causing them to be fired?
A. No, the percentage of E-Verify errors being excessively high is a myth. And so is the myth that E-Verify doesn't have the capacity to handle the heavy load that would result if it became mandatory in all states.
Q. Can illegal workers fool the system?
A. The only way an illegal immigrant worker has in the past been able to fool E-Verify, was by using a work document such as a green card and a social security card containing information belonging to another legal worker and doctored with a photo of himself. However with the mandatory use of the E-Verify photo tool now in effect, an illegal immigrant worker's document containing someone else's information would be revealed as fraudulent if the photo downloaded from the DHS did not match the photo on the green card.
Q. How should employers who want to use my service go about it?