The I-9 process comes from the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which requires most U.S. employers to verify the identities and work authorization of the new employees they hire. If your business operates in hospitality, construction or another sector that tends to have a high number of unauthorized workers, you may not feel like the normal I-9 process is sufficient, though.
Fortunately, the U.S. government maintains a mostly voluntary program that allows participating employers to compare employee-provided information with government databases. According to the E-Verify website, if the information does not match, employees have a limited time to contest the nonconfirmation.
Do you have to participate?
As mentioned, the E-Verify program is mostly a voluntary one. Unless you are a government contractor or have an order that requires you to participate in the program, you can elect to participate or not participate. If you choose to enroll in the program, though, you must follow its rules to the letter for all new hires.
Do you have time to participate?
If you have a comparatively small organization, participating in E-Verify may be too time-consuming to be manageable. Remember, not only must you input information from each new employee’s I-9, but you also must timely follow up on all tentative and final nonconfirmations.
Is the program perfect?
The E-Verify program can give you some headaches, as it is only as good as the information in records from the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. This means you should make no inferences about an employee’s legal work status until you receive either a confirmation or final nonconfirmation.
Ultimately, if you use E-Verify discriminatorily or improperly, you may face hefty fines and other penalties.