E-verify is a system supported by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration(SSA) that allows employers to verify employment eligibility. Information must be taken directly from the form I-9 (employment eligibility form). There are several states which require mandatory use of the E-Verify System, although currently only 7% of employers use the system. Some states only require the use for state contractor positions.
E-Verify was launched in 1997 as a pilot program. In the early stages, there were a host of issues with many of the results showing non-confirmations. A non-confirmation means the information input does not match either the DHS or SSA records. Much of the issue was that it did not support sufficient documentation options for applicants to provide as proof of immigration status.
It’s critical for employers to understand that this is not part of a pre-employment screening; E-Verify can only be used after the employee has received an employment offer. The employer must complete the request within 3 business days.
A 2009 study conducted by Westat showed a 4.1% inaccuracy rate, and of that number 3.1% were incorrectly authorized which was largely attributed to document fraud, indicating that an individual could easily present documentation that belonged to someone else. Further, the study showed 0.7% had been declared unauthorized when they should have been, in fact, work eligible.
E-Verify has significantly improved since the Westat study was conducted indicating by 2012, the share of employees receiving a tentative non confirmation was five time lower than it had been prior to 2007.
It’s a system that actually has shown improvements over time,” says Muzaffar Chishti, who is with the non-partisan Migration Policy Institute. Chishti has studied E-Verify since 1997. He says, yes, there’ve been mistakes with E-Verify saying legal employees, like St. Pierre, are not authorized to work. Or approving workers who are actually in the U.S. illegally. Chishti says, at first, E-Verify’s error rate was terrible — 8 to 10 percent. But now, it’s down to less than 2 percent.
With the proposed immigration bill, all employers will be required to use the E-Verify system. Most likely the requirement will be phased in over time with employers getting ample time to implement the process.
While no system is perfect, the overall confirmation rate (according to USCIS) of E-Verify is 99% of those that are supposed to be authorized, and those that are not authorized are due to incorrect name input, identity fraud or the applicant is truly not work eligible. And even if an initial non-confirmation is given, the applicant still has a reasonable amount of time (8 government business days) to correct the issue. There will continue to be critics of the system and this certainly will not change – no matter what the accuracy rate is.