The Employment Eligibility Verification Program or E-Verify System, is an Internet-based computer application that allows employers to verify or confirm the employment eligibility of newly-hired employees. The purpose of the E-Verify System is to help employers avoid legal liability stemming from the unintentional hire of immigrants who are not authorized to work in the United States, whether they are in the country legally or illegally. The system is operated by Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), housed in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA).

How does the E-Verify System work?

The employer and the newly-hired employee must complete Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification), as has been required for decades. The information gathered is submitted to the E-Verify System electronically no later than three business days after the new hire's start date. The E-Verify system may not be used to pre-screen candidates. Notices that the employer participates in the E-Verify program must be prominently displayed in the workplace.

The system electronically compares the Form I-9 information submitted by the employee to the information stored in databases maintained by the SSA and DHS. If the E-Verify System determines that the new hire is authorized to work in the United States, it displays a confirmation message. If the system cannot verify the new hire's employment eligibility, it displays a "Tentative Non-Confirmation" message. This finding is tentative, because the new hire may contest it through the appropriate government agency while continuing to work his or her new job. In addition to data verification, the E-Verify System is capable of photo matching.

Requirements for Employers

Employers are able to register in E-Verify at the DHS site, www.dhs.gov. Registration is free and provides instructions at each stage of the process. After accepting the electronic E-Verify Memorandum of Understanding, the employer will be required to complete a tutorial before using the System.

While participation in E-Verify is voluntary for most employers, a few states have made participation mandatory by law for certain employers, such as those who contract with the state. Other states, including Ohio, are considering similar laws. Meanwhile, Federal contractors' participation is mandatory.

Once an employer agrees to participate, it must verify the employment eligibility of all newly-hired employees regardless of their national origin or citizenship status, including United States citizens. The purpose of this requirement is to help employers avoid claims of discrimination.