The US Citizenship and Immigration Service recently launched the E-Verify: “Know Your Rights” Campaign for employees. The goal is to educate employees about E-Verify, Self Check, and their rights as employees so that they are able to identify a violation of their rights. As part of the campaign, USCIS has developed a toolkit for employees to obtain information, procedures, and contact information to assist them during the E-Verify process.
E-Verify is an internet based system that compares information from Form I-9 with Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm that an employee is authorized to work in the United States. E-Verify uses a person’s name, social security number, date of birth, and immigration information (if applicable) to match up to government records and verify employment eligibility for all new hires. E-Verify is used by many employers voluntarily, but is required for some by law. An employer who uses E-Verify is required to notify employees of their participation in the program.
Self Check, a part of E-Verify, is a free internet-based application that is used by an individual to confirm their work eligibility in the U.S. Much like E-Verify, Self-Check checks an employee’s personal information against government databases to determine work eligibility. With Self-Check, U.S. Workers can access their employment eligibility status to ensure that their records are up to date as well as provide them with instructions should a problem exist.
The Toolkit includes helpful video, radio, and print materials that explain E-Verify and Self Check as well as “Know your Rights” information for the employee. More specifically, the Toolkit provides frequently asked questions and instructions on completing Self Check, the E-Verify process, and an outline of employees rights, responsibilities, and contact information should discrimination occur. You may check out the Toolkit at: Employee Rights Toolkit.
With more employees understanding their rights and having avenues to assert them, employers should remain vigilant during the hiring, I-9 and E-Verify processes to ensure they are in compliance with all guidance from the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Related Discrimination (OSC). When completing Form I-9, employees may present any documents listed as acceptable on the form; Employers may not request specific or additional documents be presented. This practice is known as document abuse and it is a violation of immigration law.
If an employee receives a non-confirmation from E-Verify, it is vitally important that the employer provides them with all necessary documentation to remedy the issue at the appropriate government agency. Without this documentation, the employee will be unable to correct the problem and a final non-confirmation will be issued by E-Verify, which will result in the termination of the employee.
An employee has the right to contact the E-Verify hotline for assistance during this process without fear of retaliation for doing so. Retaliation can be in the form of termination, suspension, withholding of pay or training, delaying a start date, or limiting employment.
As always, it is imperative that employers avoid discrimination based on national origin, citizenship, or immigration status. Should an employee feel as though they were discriminated against, they have the right to contact the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and report the incident. Once the OSC is contacted, they will open an investigation into the matter and resolve it as deemed appropriate. Resolution could include fines and penalties for the employer.