The E-Verify system includes naturalized data to confirm citizenship status of naturalized U.S. citizens.  However, naturalized citizens who have not yet updated their records with the Social Security Administration (SSA) are the largest category of work-authorized persons who initially face SSA mismatch letters.  A naturalized citizen who receives a citizenship mismatch with SSA can call U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) or  go to an SSA field office to resolve the matter.

The biometric verification feature within the E-Verify system gives employers a tool to detect identity theft in the employment eligibility process.  The system allows the employer to check a photo on a new hire’s Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) against 14.8 million images stored in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) databases.

F-1 foreign students enrolled on a full-time basis for one (1) full academic year in a college or university and certified by the Student & Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS),  are eligible for twelve (12) months of (OPT).  An additional 17-month OPT extension is available for current OPT F-1 students who have completed a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree and accepted employment with an employer enrolled in E-Verify.  The system benefits students with pending H-1B petitions and change of status requests, enabling them to maintain work authorization  for the duration of the H-1B processing period.

DHS claims E-Verify is the best means available to verify employment eligibility of newly hired employees because it virtually eliminates Social Security mismatch letters, improves wage and tax reporting accuracy, protects U.S. worker jobs and helps employers maintain a legal workforce.

Some states now require employers to register with E-Verify (i.e., Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina) .  E-Verify makes what is a voluntary federal government program mandatory in those states.  There are penalties for non-compliance including loss of public contracts (GA), bars from claiming deductible expenses for state income purposes (GA) and loss of business licenses (AZ).  More litigation is anticipated over state legislation.

Disadvantages of Using E-Verify

Some would argue that there is a questionable degree of accuracy of information contained in the databases.  E-Verify cannot always detect instances of identity theft (i.e. when an employee may present valid documents that do not belong to him/her).

If the information in the database is incorrect, an employer may be restricted from continuing to employ a person if the issue is not resolved within the set time frame.

Employees may miss work since employees have only eight (8) federal government workdays from notification of issue to contact USCIS or SSA to resolve the  matter.

The administration of the system can be cumbersome particularly since an employer may only accept a Form I-9 List B document if it bears photograph and employees must possess a social security number.

Currently, 55,000 employers use E-Verify – less than 1% of employers.  There may be a significant negative impact if 7 million employers are required to register!

SSA estimates that 17.8 million of its records (an error rate of 4.1%) contain discrepancies due to name change, adjustment of immigration status or  data entry error.

Forty-seven percent (47%) of employers using E-Verify entered employee information before the 1st day of work rather than after hiring as required by law.  This may lead to potential discriminatory effects.