Will E-Verify Become Mandatory?

E-Verify is the government’s system for determining if people are eligible to work in the United States. At the moment, in most states, the use of E-Verify is optional. Will that change? Will E-Verify become mandatory and, if so, what should HR do?

There is no question that the government wants to make it easier for businesses to check if a person has the right to work in the US. There is even a 2018 budget request to Congress to make improvements to the E-Verify system.

Does that mean mandatory E-verify is imminent? Not necessarily. A budget request is just that, a request. It may not move forward and, if it does, it will take some time. Even after any legislation is passed, employers will be given a reasonable timeframe, perhaps a year, to adopt.

Does that mean we should relax and wait to see what happens? While HR could sit back and wait, it pays to be proactive. E-Verify is a sensible system that is neither difficult nor expensive. E-Verify will help ensure you hire eligible and documented workers. It will benefit you in the long-run to make E-Verify a standard part of your recruiting/onboarding process—so why not get started now? Far better to get moving on this implementation so that you can do so at your own pace, and fit it into your own schedule, then to scramble to meet a legislated deadline.

What do you need to do? The first thing is to get leadership buy in. That shouldn’t be hard; leaders understand the political climate and they understand the need for compliance. In fact, they may be surprised that online verification is not already a part of the standard process. Making the case to management rests on two arguments: one day E-Verify will be mandatory; and it will be cheaper and easier if we do it before we forced to.  They don’t need to do it today, but it ought to be on the agenda for the next budget cycle.

Once you’ve got the green light to proceed the most important thing to focus on are processes. It’s tempting to say: “Simply ensure E-Verification is a standard step in hiring”, but we know that if you have multiple locations and multiple hiring processes then “simply” is not the right adjective. Nonetheless, E-Verify is not as hard as many of the compliance complications HR deals with.

These days HR should never talk about processes without talking about technology. Technology can streamline, and simplify the entire process. Some HR vendors have E-Verify compliance built-in so that, for example, you won’t need to enter information into an I-9 then re-enter it into E-Verify. If it’s not obvious how this should work with the software you currently have, then call your vendor, they will have run into the issue of integrating an E-Verify process with their software and should have a clear answer. If you happen to be upgrading your software, make sure you get a system already set up for E-Verify.

Do you need a consultant to lead you through the process?  Probably not. If you’re buried in work and unfamiliar with E-Verify then you might want to get an extra, experienced pair of hands to get it set up. However, it’s simple enough that most HR professionals can manage without outside help.

What can you do today? Send a note to leadership suggesting that it’s time to get moving on implementing E-Verify as a standard process and that it won’t be overly difficult. It’s also not overly expensive and there’s no need to check every applicant, verification is just a confirmatory step after the hiring process is nearly complete.  Make sure they know that this will improve compliance and reduce the risk of facing penalties. They’ll appreciate HR being proactive and dealing with an issue before it becomes a problem.

You can learn more at the USCIS site:  https://www.uscis.gov/e-verify/employers

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