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Pros and cons to using the E-Verify system
For employers who are not required by law to use the E-Verify system, deciding whether or not to use E-Verify voluntarily may not be a simple decision. While the use of E-Verify has many benefits for employers, the system has also received its share of criticism. Employers may find that a comparison of some of the system's pros and cons will help with the decision of whether voluntary E-Verify participation is the right choice.
Potential benefits to using the E-Verify system:
- E-verify allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.
- E-Verify is free and voluntary.
- According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), E-Verify is the best means available for determining employment eligibility of new hires and the validity of their Social Security Numbers.
- According to the USCIS, E-Verify virtually eliminates Social Security mismatch letters, improves the accuracy of wage and tax reporting, protects jobs for authorized U.S. workers, and helps U.S. employers maintain a legal workforce.
- While participation in the E-verify program does not provide an employer with safe harbor, it does establish a presumption that the employer has not knowingly hired an unauthorized worker.
- Voluntary participation in the E-Verify program shows an employer's good-faith efforts to comply with the law.
- E-Verify participation may provide credibility in a federal audit, and may even mitigate fines for Form I-9 errors.
- An employer's participation in E-Verify may deter individuals who are not authorized to work in the United States from applying for employment. It may also protect jobs for authorized workers.
- E-Verify can alert employees to mismatches and possible errors in their government records. Clearing up errors sooner rather than later can save employees time and irritation down the road.
Potential drawbacks to using the E-Verify system
- Use of the E-Verify program lengthens the eligibility verification process and may increase costs for employers, particularly if the function is outsourced.
- Use of the E-verify program requires that the Form I-9 be completed in a specific way. An employee must provide his or her Social Security number (SSN), though it would not be required if the employer was not an E-Verify participant (the SSN in Section 1 of the Form I-9 is optional, and an employee could present documentation besides the Social Security card for the purposes of Section 2). In Section 2, the employer is also limited to accept only those identity (List B) documents which include a photograph.
- Once an employee's information has been entered into the E-Verify system, the program does not return any immediate indication that an employee is not authorized to work in the United States (if that is the case). Instead, the system issues a nonconfirmation (meaning that the program is unable to confirm that the employee is authorized to work). A nonconfirmation typically requires the employee to do some work to prove that he or she is actually authorized to work in the United States.
- In a union environment, the use of E-Verify may need to be part of the collective bargaining process, and the subject can be contentious.
- The databases used by the E-Verify system are not perfect. This means that an employer could potentially receive a nonconfirmation because of an error in either the DHS or the SSA database, not a problem with the employee's information. While such an issue can take time to work out, it may not be a problem for the employer as long as employees are given time to correct the issue and do not experience adverse treatment by the employer because of the nonconfirmation.
- An employer may receive a nonconfirmation or a tentative nonconfirmation of work eligibility because of an employee's failure to update his/her information with the proper agencies. Again, this is most problematic if the employee is treated improperly because of such findings.
- By using the system, employers do take on some additional risk since they can be held liable for using E-Verify incorrectly. Employers must familiarize themselves with the proper uses of the system and proper responses to certain results issued by E-Verify.
- E-Verify cannot help to pinpoint cases of identity theft, so an employee who is using another individual's documentation (assuming that individual is authorized to work) won't likely be caught by the E-Verify system.
- Participating employers allow the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security to perform periodic audits.
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