Employers in the United States have always been obligated by law to confirm the eligibility of their employees to obtain legal work in the country. In response to the realities of an uncertain world, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has changed aspects of the employment eligibility verification process and has significantly increased enforcement actions.
When a new hire is taken on board, an employer is given three days to submit a Form I-9. This form documents such information as an employee’s name, address, date of birth and Social Security Number. The employer is required to review legally accepted documentation that establishes an employee’s right to work in the U.S. and certify they meet the requisite standards.
Notwithstanding the more aggressive enforcement of employment eligibility requirements, the federal government has taken steps to make it easier for an employer to comply with the law. The government now allows electronic storage of I-9s and the ability to complete verification online. Guidance is also available to assist an employer in handling discrepancies when checking employee information.
Electronic I-9 Storage
Changes to the rules have made it possible for an employer to store I-9s electronically. The law doesn’t mandate the precise manner for storing the records, but some standards are required for the storage medium.
- There must be appropriate protections to protect data from unauthorized access.
- Â Data accuracy and integrity must be assured.
- Records must be searchable.
- It must be possible to create hard copies of records.
- Â It must be possible to verify eligibility online.
Online Confirmation Through E-Verify
At their discretion, employers may opt to access the E-Verify system (formerly the Basic Pilot Program) via www.uscis.gov to verify eligibility online. Follow these steps to get started using E-Verify:
- Enroll in the program and sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and DHS.
- Â Log on to DHS’ secure website (provided during enrollment). Once logged on, you can enter the information provided on the I-9 by your employee.
- Â You will then receive a confirmation that the employee is authorized, a message indicating that DHS will have to work on verifying your worker’s authorization, or a request for the employee to contact DHS or SSA to resolve a possible problem.
- Â In the event an employee is referred to SSA or DHS, the employee will be contacted directly by a representative within 10 days to confirm authorization or to determine if further action is needed.
How to Handle Discrepancies in Employee Data
Most of the time, the Social Security Number and employee name will match records already on file, in which case you’ll receive confirmation the worker is authorized and no further action will be required. However, there are some potential issues that could prevent the system from authorizing an employee right away:
- Â If, despite matching the Social Security Number and name, the system is unable to verify that the employee is authorized to work in the U.S., you will receive an alert informing you that DHS is attempting to complete verification. An answer will usually be issued within three days.
- Â If DHS isn’t able to confirm the employee’s authorization to work in the U.S., you will be notified to inform your worker to report to DHS directly to resolve the problem.
- Â In the event the Social Security Number and name are mismatched, the employee will be referred to the SSA to fix the issue.
Typically, any roadblocks you encounter will be dealt with in a week or less after submitting an I-9 through the online system. In some cases, the employee may be required to submit documents and photos to prove his or her identity and U.S. work authorization. If your worker can’t establish identity and authorization to work, you will need to terminate his or her employment immediately to avoid liability.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.