Archive for December 2013


Understanding E-Verify: What is It, What Are Employer’s Obligations, and What Does Your Data Tell the Government

December 20th, 2013 — 9:52am

E-Verify is a free, Web-based program that allows employers to verify the employment eligibility of their new hires and certain other workers electronically. Operated as a partnership between DHS and the Social Security Administration (SSA), the program is administered by USCIS.  The program was established to reduce unauthorized employment, reduce employment-verification-related discrimination, reduce the burdens on employers, and protect employers from civil and criminal penalties related to claims of hiring unauthorized workers. While the program is mostly voluntary, some employers are required to use the program to ensure their employees are work authorized. Those required to use E-Verify include most federal contractors and subcontractors who enter into or continue contracts with federal executive departments and agencies for all new hires and/or all persons performing services for certain federal contracts. In addition, some states require E-verify for their contractors, and Arizona requires it for all of its employers. There is little doubt that E-Verify will become mandatory for all employers as part of any comprehensive or even piecemeal immigration reform that is enacted in the future. In the meantime, employers considering registering for the program now should understand the requirements that attach to their participation and some of their potential liabilities:

Employers who use E-verify have a number of obligations that commence after an employer registers and signs an electronic E-Verify Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which explains the terms and conditions. Under the MOU, the employer agrees to: (1) use E-verify only after new hires have accepted employment offers and completed their Form I-9s, Employment Eligibility Verification; (2) use E-Verify within three days of their new hire’s actual start date; (3) use E-Verify  only for new hires, not existing workers, unless otherwise required; (4) use the data obtained on Form I-9 to enter information into the E-Verify system; (5) display federal notices for E-Verify at their workplace; and (6) accept only “List B” identification documents with photographs as part of I-9 procedures.  Employers who use E-Verify also agree to comply with other responsibilities related to record-keeping and response procedures when information provided by the new hire does not match federal records. This includes reviewing “tentative nonconfirmation” (TNC) responses issued by SSA with their employee and reporting back to SSA/DHS with details on resolving the TNC. Participating employers also agree to permit DHS or SSA to make periodic visits to review its E-Verify records and share information with other government agencies.  During those periodic visits, DHS or SSA officials are permitted to interview employees directly. Employers who participate in E-Verify can terminate the program but only after giving 30 days notice.

In early December, E-Verify released new and revised MOUs that bind existing users and new users to changes made to the program. Most of these changes are not substantive but instead appear to reflect improved language and organization, as well as some enhanced privacy protections and instructions for reporting privacy and security breaches. While existing users do not need to execute new MOUs, they are bound by these changes. The effective date for existing users is January 8, 2014.  For new users, the effective date of the revised MOUs is December 8, 2013.

A new feature of E-Verify is that the system now can lock Social Security numbers (SSNs) that appear to have been used fraudulently, like a credit card company can lock a credit card that appears to have been stolen. If an employee attempts to use a locked SSN, a TNC will be generated.

As mentioned above, participating employers agree to governmental information sharing. Three years ago, DHS formalized such information sharing and entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the division in DOJ that prosecutes claims of discriminatory hiring practices. Under the agreement, DHS shares with OSC citizenship status and documentation data, which initially was to be used to identify trends that may indicate an employer’s discriminatory practices. However, once the DHS/OSC information sharing program was up and running, OSC began using this data to initiate investigations of employer discrimination, even in the absence of employee complaints.  And, such investigations are on the rise.

With more and more employers enrolling in E-Verify — either because they want greater confidence in the validity of the documents presented by their employees and less risk of fines for making mistakes, or because they are now required to do so — it has become increasingly important for employers to understand all aspects of the program and ensure that their staff are well versed and trained in the program’s requirements. For starters, employers who use E-Verify are strongly encouraged to review and familiarize themselves with the new or revised MOU that applies to them. Employers should also adopt best practices, which include preparing a policy-and-procedure manual for I-9 and E-Verify compliance; providing annual and mandatory training for all individuals who complete the company’s I-9s; and periodically auditing and reviewing the company’s processes to ensure that they are being followed properly.

Comment » | Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Worksite enforcement policies

The American Public is Adamant: We Need Comprehensive Immigration Reform Now

December 5th, 2013 — 2:27pm

As House leaders continue to reject the broad framework of the Senate immigration bill, the American public remains strong in its support of comprehensive immigration reform. The source of its determination: empathy for the people affected by a broken immigration system.

As 100 children marched on the Capitol last month, they met up with members of the 1963 Children’s Crusade to share stories of family members being arrested and deported right before their eyes. Each group had experienced firsthand the effects of the broken immigration system, and echoes of the civil rights struggle proved a powerful backdrop to the children’s call for a real solution.

Outside of Washington D.C., protesters continue to gather at a number of public locations to support the reform effort; often risking arrest just to have their voices heard. When asked why they do this, many of the protesters say they are fighting for others, including friends, families and aspiring citizens.

Perhaps most revealing, however, is the public’s ongoing support of the pathway to citizenship, one of the most controversial points of the Senate’s bill. According to a recent report from the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, nearly 63% of Americans across all religions and parties support the pathway, including 60% of Republicans. While on the opposite end of the spectrum, only 18% of Americans favor a tougher enforcement strategy of identifying and deporting illegal immigrants.

As tiring representatives begin to consider a divided legislation, perhaps they should look closer at what the American public is actually saying. Immigration laws don’t need a few small fixes, or to be drawn out over months or years, they need comprehensive reform and they need it now. Otherwise, millions of immigrants and citizens alike will continue to suffer under the burden of a broken system.

Zulkie Partners is nationally recognized for its command of immigration law.  We offer services that cover all aspects of corporate immigration law, including nonimmigrant work visas, permanent residence sponsorship and more.

Connect with us today to learn how we can help you further your hiring goals.

Comment » | Immigration reform

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