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Ask the Hotline | E-Verify Determines Work Status of Employees

December 4, 2017
 
Question
 
We have recently hired a couple of people who turned out not to have the legal right to work in the U.S. Is there some way we can prevent that from happening in the future? 
 
Answer
 
Yes.
 
I am assuming that you complete a Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) for each person that you hire and that the person can produce what appears to be acceptable documentation to prove s/he has the legal right to work in the U.S. 
 
But, as your question highlights, having what appears to be valid documentation for the I-9 does not ensure the person has the legal right to work here. 
 
Assuming the person does provide you with documents for the I-9 that appear to be credible and you inspect and then accept them, the next best tool to use is a system called E-Verify. E-Verify is a free program established by the federal government in 1996 to provide information to employers to prevent undocumented immigrants and other people who have violated immigration laws from obtaining employment illegally in the U.S.
 
The program has expanded in a couple of ways since it began. In August 2007, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) started requiring all federal contractors and vendors to use E-Verify.
 
At the same time, approximately 20 states or subdivisions of states (counties) across the U.S. have passed laws requiring some or all employers in their state to use E-Verify. Massachusetts is not one of them. Approximately 600,000 employers are using the program. 
 
E-Verify compares information from an employee's Form I-9 to data from U.S. government records (specifically from DHS and Social Security). If the information matches, that employee is eligible to work in the United States. If there is a mismatch, E-Verify alerts the employer and the employee is allowed to work while he or she resolves the problem.
 
The employee must contact the appropriate agency to resolve the mismatch within eight federal government work days from the referral date. Failure to resolve the issue means the employee will not be able to continue to work in the U.S. 
 
For most users, the key benefit of E-Verify is the speed with which an employer learns of the person’s legal right to work in the U.S. The answer usually appears in three to five seconds.
 
There are some steps an employer needs to take prior to using E-verify. Start by visiting the E-Verify Web site. The site includes information on how to register for E-verify, how to use it, what you must do once you are registered and FAQ section on a wide range of topics. This link is to the FAQ part of the website. https://www.uscis.gov/e-verify/questions-and-answers/questions-and-answers.
 
AIM members interested in discussing this or other HR-related matters may call the AIM Employer Hotline at 800-470-6277.
 
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