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What is E-Verify?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2016
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E-Verify is a system which employers in the United States can use to verify the work status of newly hired employees to confirm that they are legal. This system is free and voluntary for employers who wish to use it, with the exception of contract employers who hold government contracts, who are required to use E-Verify if they wish to continue to receiving government contracts. This system is designed to make it easier and faster for employers to confirm that their workers are legal, and to deter people who cannot work legally in the United States.

The United States initially developed this system in 1997 as the Basic Pilot/Employment Eligibility Program. It was set to expire in 2008, due to concerns about the potential impact of the system on the work climate in the United States. In September 2008, the system was extended, as it had received substantial support from members of the government as well as some employers.

All employers in the United States are required to verify that newly hired employees can work legally, with employees filling out a form I-9 within three days of employment along with providing proof of legal status, such as a Social Security Card and additional government identification card. Employers who use E-Verify still have to use these methods, but they can also enter data into the E-Verify system to confirm that it is correct, and that an employee can legally work.

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The system is administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, under the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. To participate, employers register and take a brief tutorial before being allowed to use the system. By entering data such as names and Social Security numbers, the employers can look up new hires to determine whether or not they are eligible to work in the United States.

There are several restrictions on the E-Verify system. Employers can only use it after they have hired a new employee, not as a screening device for potential employees. They are also only allowed to use it for new hires, not existing employees. Legally, employers must notify employees when they use E-Verify to check on work and immigration status. Employees also have the right to challenge E-Verify results if they feel that they are erroneous. Errors do occur, and people who believe that they should be legally allowed to work in the United States should definitely challenge system mismatches which suggest that their work status may be in question.

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MrMoody
Post 5

@Mammmood - The system is optional. Honestly, I’ve never even been aware that’s it’s been used in any place where I’ve been employed; at least the employer never notified me if they did.

Many times I was just simply asked, “Are you authorized to work in the United States?” I say yes, of course. I think I probably get that question more than other people because I have a funny sounding name, which alerts people to the fact that I am of foreign descent.

I don’t mind, really. Nor do I mind about being pulled over in airports. Personally, most of the level immigrants I’ve met have no problem with either E-verify or with spot searches by the police. If you’re here legally, you have nothing to fear, and you should certainly not protest about having to obey the law in my opinion.

Mammmood
Post 4

@allenJo - The answer to your question is two-fold. One, with those random stops you refer to, it’s almost impossible to prove that the officer is not engaged in “racial profiling.”

They are, after all, singling out individuals for stops, and not everyone driving on the road. The second answer to your question is that there is a powerful immigrant lobby in the United States, and they have a lot of money to fund political candidates.

They can make sure that their choice of a political candidate wins or loses, or at least they’ll try to. It’s an unfortunate reality, but a lot of these issues are not determined by clear cut answers of right or wrong, but on who controls the purse strings.

allenJo
Post 3

In my opinion E-verify raises a larger philosophical question. If it’s legal to use such a system to verify that an employee is legally qualified to work, why is it such a big deal to stop people over and ask for proof of their immigration status?

Some states have passed laws that allow police officers to ask that individuals with a driver’s license verify that they are legal citizens.

These laws have raised howls of protest from so-called civil libertarians, who consider it a form of veiled racism. Why is using the E-verify system not racist – especially if you hire a lot of Asians, Hispanics or people of other races?

In my opinion, if we’re going to use these systems, we should at least be consistent and implement this philosophy across the board, whether we’re dealing with random stops by police officers or employee background checks.

cupcake15
Post 2

@Sneakers41- The problem with checking the system before an employee is hired is that there could be mistakes in the system and someone could be denied a job because of the error.

A potential employee might not even know why they did not get a job and this false information could damage an innocent person.

At least if the person is hired they know that the reason for their termination was based on the results of the verification and if they felt that the information was erroneous then they could challenge it and have a chance at not only prevailing but changing the erroneous information to reflect what the information should be.It is not as cut and dry as you think.

sneakers41
Post 1

I wonder why there is a provision that does not allow companies to verify the immigration status of potential employees before they are hired. I mean many companies do background and credit checks, I don’t understand why checking the legal working status of an employee is such a big deal.

I think that employers should be able to use the system as a screening mechanism to ensure that they don’t hire someone illegally. It is easier for a company do this when they are considering hiring a person rather than waiting until they are already hired.

I also think that it is harder on the new employee if they are not illegally able to work in the United States to lose a job right after they were hired.

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