Although the federal government has always required business owners to verify an employee's eligibility to work in the U.S., the Department of Homeland Security has made recent changes to how this is to be accomplished, and has begun strictly enforcing employment eligibility verification.
Employers are required to complete I-9 forms within three days after hiring an employee. The employee fills out basic information such as his or her name, date of birth, address and Social Security number, and then the employer certifies that the employee has presented documentation confirming his or her right to work in the U.S.
Fortunately, although the government will now enforce this requirement more stringently, it has also made complying with employment eligibility verification easier on employers. Employers can now store I-9 forms electronically, check the employment eligibility verification forms online, and learn about what to do if the employee's information does not match the information provided by the government.
Storing Employment Eligibility Verification I-9 Forms Electronically
Electronic storage of I-9 forms is now explicitly allowed by recent regulations. While the regulations do not set forth a specific manner in which to store these records, they do mandate that whatever electronic storage medium is used:
Verify Employment Eligibility Online
Employers may voluntarily use the E-Verify system (formerly known as the Basic Pilot Program), accessible through www.uscis.gov, to verify employment eligibility online. Here are the basic steps to get going on E-Verify:
If the employee is referred to either the DHS or SSA, those agencies will contact the employer within ten days to confirm whether or not the employee has been authorized or whether additional action is required.
Dealing with Discrepancies between Employee and Government Provided Information
There are several reasons for the system to not immediately authorize an employee; here are the most common scenarios that take place:
Most issues will be resolved within a week of submitting an online I-9, but in problematic cases, the employee will have to submit documentation and photographs to establish his or her identity and authorization to work in the U.S. If the employee cannot establish his or her identity and authorization to work in the U.S., then you must terminate his or her employment to avoid liability.
Get Legal Help with Your Employment Eligibility Verification Questions
Employment eligibility verification rules are subject to change and can involve complicated issues for some businesses. Since the federal government holds you and your business responsible for compliance, you'll want to be sure that the policies and procedures you have in place are effective. Contact a local employment law attorney to help you with this and other compliance issues in order to ensure that your business stays on the right side of the law.