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Sara Jensen

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E-Verify: What Recruiters Need to Know

E-Verify, the Department of Homeland Security’s online system for determining an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States, is a technology designed to protect employers from unwittingly hiring ineligible employees; a mistake which can result in hefty penalties and serious legal ramifications. The service, which is accessible from any internet portal, is free of charge and utilizes information already located on an employee’s I-9 form. However, as is the case with many new employment laws and, in this case, new technology, it brings with it some confusion about where its usage is – and isn’t – required.

Though only 3 U.S. States (Arizona, Mississippi, and South Carolina) currently have immigration laws requiring all employers (both public and private) to use E-Verify, numerous others have laws requiring state agencies and contractors to use it, while a growing number are considering legislation that would make the system mandatory for certain types of employers and/or new hires. And as of September 8, 2009, federal government contracting officers began mandating E-Verify requirements for contractors and some subcontractors working under certain types of government contracts.

For recruiters – especially those placing new hires in assignments throughout the country or hiring for contract assignments – this changing legislation can be enough to make your head spin. Recruiters using an outsourced payroll provider like IES can breathe a sigh of relief, since E-Verify responsibilities are usually covered by these companies as part of the payroll service provision. However, a recruiter or staffing firm assuming employer of record/payroll responsibilities for his or her employees must take care to ensure compliance with nationwide federal regulations as well as individual state’s E-Verify Laws.

Though the online verification process is relatively straightforward, the learning curve can be lengthy, and the individual verifications themselves are an inconvenience that can add time and additional administrative hassle to your on-boarding process. Below is an overview of the process, along with some helpful hints for staying current and compliant with E-Verify regulations:

    • Learn How to Use the E-Verify System: If you haven’t already, it’s very likely you’ll be using the system soon, and it’s probably wise to heed the old adage that “practice makes perfect.” It may sound simple, but being prepared before you place an employee in a state or job that mandates E-Verification can help make the process much smoother once you find yourself facing more new hire situations that require its use. To begin using E-Verify, employers (or recruiters acting as the employer of record) must visit the official enrollment website where they will be asked to register online and sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service and the Social Security Administration. Once this is submitted and complete, users will receive an email confirmation containing a login ID and password they may use to access and begin using the system. Prior to doing so, however, each user will first be required to complete an online tutorial explaining the features, policies, and procedures regarding E-Verify’s use. Familiarizing yourself with the system’s operation before you’re actually required to do so means you’ll be more comfortable with it, creating less disruption to your business and hiring processes if and when mandated use increases.


    • Develop an Employee Notification Policy: When preparing to hire a new employee who will be working in a job or location that requires the use of E-Verify, you as the employer should notify them in writing of your intent to use the system before allowing them to begin work. For the sake of convenience, it’s a good idea to create and add to your standard set of “new hire paperwork” a form that outlines the E-Verification policy and explains your company’s participation in and compliance with it as an employer. In addition, you may want to draft a standard email or printed form letter that notifies the new employee of your intention to use the E-Verify system to validate his or her authorization to work legally in the United States. Once an employee has begun work, you must also ensure his/her worksite includes proper notification of the employer’s employee verification standards and policies. The Department of Homeland Security has created two posters outlining these policies which must be hung at your employee’s worksite so that each new hire has an opportunity to read and review them.


    • Stay Informed of Changing Legislation: Because E-Verify is a relatively new system, and because so many states have different legislation regarding its use, there is a great deal of rumor, speculation, and sometimes misunderstanding about where and when it is required. And while the internet can be a great tool for accessing up-to-the-minute information, it can also lead to confusion and inaccuracies that are quickly spread by blogs, online forums, and other possibly well-meaning but misinformed sources. To make sure you’re staying abreast of the latest changes in legislation, consult only primary and trusted secondary sources. The United States Department of Citizenship and Immigration Sciences has a section of their website devoted to E-Verify and its changing requirements here and trusted organizations such as the Society for Human Resource Management:(SHRM) can also provide accurate, up-to-date information and answers to frequently asked questions.


  • Consider Outsourcing the On-Boarding Process to a Third Party: If you’re already responsible for handling your own employee payroll and E-Verification sounds like one more step in a hiring process that already feels too cumbersome and time-consuming, you may wish to outsource the process altogether. Recruiters and staffing firms who already utilize a third-party payroll and HR administrative service like IES needn’t worry much about E-Verify, since the burden of I-9 and E-Verification processes belongs to these payrolling companies, who act as the new hire’s legal employer of record. And for recruiters who’ve already been toying with the idea, the new E-Verify laws might just provide one more argument in favor of outsourcing HR administration. Using a third-party payroll and HR administration vendor can help recruiters save a significant amount of the time and hassle during the on-boarding process, and can also relieve the stress of assuming responsibility for staying updated on (and complying with) existing and changing immigration legislation.Whether you decide to handle this new employment mandate in-house or you let someone else manage the added administrative burden, the important thing when adapting to E-Verify legislation is to develop practices that allow you to stay updated and to act in accordance with state and federal laws – and to do both of these things in a way that creates minimal disruption to your recruiting business.