With the U.S. juggling a monetary crisis, military actions abroad, and healthcare reform, immigration issues have got a back seat going back year or so. What this means is e-Verify legislation, long a center of discussion and controversy, is not receiving all the attention lately. However, as employment and immigration commence to take center stage in the national discourse again, worker authorization verification will yet again be a hot topic.
Employers and HR professionals should pay close attention to the news on e-Verify. Utilization of the program remains to be technically voluntary for most private businesses. However, it can be becoming a de-facto necessity for businesses that desire to protect themselves from compliance risks. ICE best practices place e-Verify in the pivotal role making it clear that employers that do not use this free, web-based verification system will probably be considered lax in their adherence to immigration law.
The following is an overview of recent legislation as well as other pertinent news surrounding e-Verify:
September, 2009: The mandated usage of e-Verify for contractors employing the federal government switches into effect. Over 165,000 businesses are impacted.
October, 2009: Congress agrees to advance e-Verify for 3 more years on the tune of $43 billion total. Funds will probably be used to ensure federal contractors abide by the new rules and (hopefully) fix a few of the shortcomings that still plague it. The current error rate of 3-4% and also the failure to deal with worker identity fraud are top concerns.
December, 2009: The Westat report is done (with results released on the public in early 2010). It shows a startling 54% error rate for authorizing workers who should have been flagged in the system for more investigation. The report does point out that the amount of unauthorized workers slipping from the cracks constituted only 3.3% from the total population reviewed in the study.
March, 2010: USCIS and also the DHS join forces to help curtail misuse and discrimination by employers who use e-Verify incorrectly. This consists of the creation of new training materials for employers along with a hotline for employees that have questions about their rights in relation to e-Verify.
April, 2010: Currently, 21 states have either implemented legislation or have legislation pending about the use of e-Verify. These constitute a mish-mash of regulations and rules for private and non-private employers as well as state contractors. Some states, such as Arizona, require all employers to utilize the system. On the other hand, Illinois is strongly resisting the use of e-Verify. The constitutionality of some laws is required to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
Current: The USCIS offers to enhance e-Verify and lower fraud with the addition of photos from U.S. passports on the photo tool database. The machine will probably commence to incorporate state DL information in the course of the future. Biometric data doubles for verification when the technology and implementation could be worked out. A few of the funding designated in October enables you to support these initiatives.
Should Employers Use e-Verify Voluntarily?
Over 192,000 employers make use of the e-Verify system currently. This online system can streamline I9 verification significantly for organizations of all sizes. Employers who put it to use correctly experience a greatly decreased risk of fines and penalties in the case of an ICE audit.
Accessibility program costs nothing; but training must ensure an employer’s I9 administrator and HR workers follow federal guidelines to use. For example, e-Verify should be used only after a worker is hired. All tentative non-confirmations of eligibility status should be investigated and confirmed before any negative action is taken against a worker who is flagged in the system. The e-Verify program is simplest for HR to utilize appropriately when it is interfaced with new hire on boarding software such as the Universal On boarding solution with all the I9 management option.
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