The Benefits of Enrolling in an E-Verify Program
Verification of employment eligibility is a critical step in the hiring process. The obligation to complete Form I-9, review employee identification documents, and retain them for years may prove burdensome for small and medium-sized businesses that already have limited staff and time. Furthermore, it may be challenging to ensure that the form has been completed accurately and that the documentation provided is genuine.
The United States government’s E-Verify system is designed to maximize the efficiency of the employment eligibility verification process, but employers may still find they lack the time and resources to use the system to their advantage. Fortunately, E-Verify permits businesses to designate an E-Verify employer agent to enroll them in the E-Verify system and use it on their behalf to verify their employees’ eligibility to work in the United States.
What Is E-Verify?
All U.S. employers who are hiring employees in the U.S. must complete Form I-9 to verify the eligibility of their employees to work in the country. The form features questions about an employee’s citizenship status or other work authorization and requires the employee to present documentation. When not using E-Verify, employers must retain the form for three years after the hire date or one year after termination of employment, whichever is later.
An employer who hires employees who are not authorized to work in the United States may suffer civil and criminal penalties, and the requirement to verify employment eligibility is imposed under both federal and state law. Understandably, many employers may worry that their employees may provide falsified identity documents or falsify answers on the Form I-9 even if everything appears legitimate. In light of this, the E-Verify system endeavors to serve as a method of alleviating this fear.
E-Verify is a free electronic system that compares the information provided on the Form I-9 with millions of records available via the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to ensure that it is valid and there are no discrepancies. Using E-Verify may be optional. However, E-Verify is sometimes required by state law or even federal law in certain situations. If using E-Verify is optional for your small or medium-sized business, you will want to know the benefits of enrolling in the E-Verify system to make the right decision for your business.
Benefits of Using E-Verify
Improved Peace of Mind
One of the best advantages of using the E-Verify system is increased peace of mind. Without using E-Verify, it is difficult for an employer to ascertain whether the answers given on the Form I-9 and the associated documents presented by the employee are genuine. An employer may worry that they will face penalties under civil or criminal law at either the state or federal level or both if the employee turns out not to have the authorization to work in the United States. Although the E-Verify system is not one-hundred percent accurate all the time, it offers another layer of certainty beyond merely inspecting the documents to ensure that they appear to be legitimate and correspond to the answers provided on the Form I-9.
Potential Protection Under Your State’s Law
Using E-Verify may also offer you protection from penalties under state law. For example, in Louisiana, one of the ways that an employer may avoid a civil penalty for unknowingly hiring a person who is not authorized to work in the United States is if they have used E-Verify to verify that employee’s citizenship or work authorization. Although this is not the only method of avoiding a civil penalty if it turns out that an employee is not eligible to work in the U.S., it is a potential benefit of using the E-Verify system. However, it is essential to note that using E-Verify may not decrease your chances of receiving a fine if a federal agency conducts an audit.
Saving Filing Space
When not using E-Verify, employers must retain Form I-9 for up to three years or a year after termination of employment. As a small or even medium-sized business, you may lack digital or physical space to store documentation and find it challenging to keep track of these documents if you expand and move offices. E-Verify allows you to avoid this requirement to keep up with this documentation by creating an electronic record of your verification process.
Potential Benefits When Hiring Certain Noncitizens of the United States
An additional benefit of E-Verify is that it may allow you to employ certain noncitizens of the United States for an additional period if you used E-Verify during the hiring of those employees. For example, some international students with F-1 visa status may apply for a twenty-four-month extension. The extensions are only granted if they can work for you within the STEM field and f your company is enrolled in the E-Verify system.
Decreased Chance of Receiving a Social Security “No-Match” Letter
Finally, using the E-Verify system decreases the chance of receiving a Social Security “No-Match” letter regarding your new employee. A “No-Match” letter is a colloquial term for what the Social Security Administration calls an Employer Correction Request Notice (EDCOR). The Social Security Administration sends these letters to employers to inform them that the name or Social Security Number on an employee’s Form W-2 does not match Social Security Administration records. When an employee’s W-2 and records do not match, the employee will not correctly receive credit for their earnings when qualifying for Social Security benefits.
Employers can use E-Verify to avoid the headache of receiving such a letter regarding one of their employees. E-Verify compares records accessible to the Social Security Administration with the information provided by the employee. Therefore, if E-Verify does not find a discrepancy, the employer will know that the employee’s name and Social Security Number on their Form I-9 agree with the Social Security Administration’s records. Since the employee likely provided the same name and Social Security Number for their Form W-2 as for the Form I-9, the employer can have confidence that the name and Social Security Number on the Form W-2 is accurate based on the result from E-Verify.
Download: The Benefits of Enrolling in an E-Verify Program
Disadvantages of Using E-Verify
Although there are significant benefits of enrolling in E-Verify, there are a few disadvantages. Enrolling in E-Verify facilitates federal government audits of information you input (however, non-E-Verify employers are similarly subject to an inspection of their retained I-9 documentation).
During a federal government shutdown, employers cannot access E-Verify. Upon reopening, E-Verify allows only a brief period for employers to input the necessary information.
Finally, E-Verify may incorrectly find an individual ineligible for U.S. employment.
Despite these potential inconveniences, the advantages of enrolling in E-Verify are evident, particularly with the assistance of a knowledgeable agent.
Why You Need a Trusted E-Verify Employer Agent
If you would like to or are required to enroll your business in E-Verify, you may find that your small or mid-sized business just does not have the bandwidth to accommodate learning a new electronic system or keeping up with changes to the system. It can seem daunting to change your hiring process when you already have many other concerns about running your business weighing on your mind. You may also want to avoid the time and resources commitment of training employees to use the E-Verify system and keep current with any new developments.
Fortunately, employers have the option to appoint an E-Verify employer agent. An E-Verify employer agent is a person or organization that you authorize to confirm a new employee’s eligibility via the E-Verify system. Your E-Verify employer agent will begin by enrolling your business in E-Verify. Your agent will then use the system to compare your new employee’s Form I-9 and associated documentation within E-Verify, taking this task off your plate.