E-Verify by The U.S. Government
E-Verify is currently a voluntary program run by the United States government to help certify that employees hired by companies are legally authorized to work in the United States. Formerly known as theBasic Pilot/Employment Eligibility Verification Program, the program is operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration.
The program was set to expire in November 2008. The expiration period reflects uncertainty in Congress about the accuracy and collateral consequences of the verification program. New rules promulgated by the Department of Homeland Security presume that this program remains in effect for the foreseeable future. On September 30, 2008, President George W. Bush signed a continuing resolution (H.R. 2638) that would, among other things, extend the E-Verify program until March 6, 2009 with $100 million in funding.
The program was originally established in 1997 as the Basic Pilot/Employment Eligibility Verification Program along with two other programs created prevent illegal aliens from getting jobs. The others were discontinued, and E-Verify has grown to a total of 2.9 million requests in 2007.
The program is free. As of August 31, 2007, the program has begun to include biometric data to help enhance searches. The 14 million images kept by federal immigration authorities are being used in the program, and the government is in talks with some states to cross reference with state drivers license records.
As of September 2007, most of the United States federal government did not use the system when hiring employees, but a new directive mandates that they use the system starting October 1, 2007. On June 6, 2008, President George W. Bush signed an amendment to Executive Order 12989 requiring that more than 200,000 federal contractors to use E-Verify. More than 22,000 companies have registered. Guidelines are being drafted to deal with companies that repeatedly hire illegal immigrants. About 5 percent of queries are identified as “not authorized to work”. Every month, over 2,000 companies join the program.
Marketing and advertising
Currently, DHS is funding a year long marketing campaign for E-Verify in both traditional and online media. The online campaign is being managed by Sapient. This online campaign consists of display and paid search.
The state of Arizona requires employers to participate in E-Verify: the Legal Arizona Workers Act has survived a number of constitutional challenges and is currently in effect. The Governor of Illinois, Rod R. Blagojevich signed a law that forbids companies in Illinois from using the service. The Department of Homeland Security is suing them in federal court to overturn this law. Secretary Michael Chertoff of the DHS negotiated an agreement with the State of Illinois that employers in Illinois could continue to use the program while the suit moves forward.
In 2007, DHS proposed a “no-match” regulation specifying “safe harbor” procedures for an employer to follow in response to notification that an employee’s Social Security number is invalid. A federal district court in California blocked the proposed regulation from taking effect. As of early March 2008, the DHS is revising the regulation. The state of Georgia is also considering making compliance mandatory.
The program has also been called inaccurate, though the error rate, currently around 8 percent, is decreasing, as many of the errors came from changing last names after marriage, or not informing the government they were now citizens. An activist group called NumbersUSA is creating a service to track which companies join and which do not to build pressure on non-participating companies to join.
E-Verify required for OPT extension for F-1 foreign students
In April 2008, U.S. Government has extended the duration of post-completion work authorization (the “Optional Practical Training” (OPT)) from 12 months to 29 months for certain qualifying foreign students with completed U.S. degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Many of these students would otherwise have to leave U.S., or participate in a lottery to win an H1B work visa. An alternative temporary visa used by college graduates sponsored by U.S. employers is the H-1B visa. This visa is capped annually at 65,000 new petitions. The limit is insufficient to meet demand. In the past two years, the demand has been so great that the Citizenship and Immigration Service of the DHS has established a lottery for sponsoring employers. The unpredictability of the lottery has made it difficult for business and foreign temporary professional workers.
OPT extension is often the only practical way to avoid the lottery in such cases, and therefore important for keeping foreign talent in the United States. In order to obtain the extension, U.S. Government requires the student’s employer to be enrolled in E-verify. This requirement might prompt many employers to join E-verify, such as big U.S. technology companies who employ many highly-skilled foreign U.S.-educated workers.
Dept. of Homeland Security Mandates Use of E-Verify by Federal Contractors
According to an article on workforce.com, federal contractors will be required to use the E-Verify system starting early next year under a regulation announced Friday, November 14. According to the article, approximately 92,000 companies currently utilize E-Verify. The contractor rule could add an additional 150,000 to 180,000 employers.
- ^ a b “U.S. Department of Homeland Security Fact Sheet“. Department of Homeland Security (2007-08-09). Retrieved on 2 November, 2007.
- ^ a b c d e f Dinan, Stephen (2007-09-25). “U.S. pushes E-verify for hires“. Washington Times. Retrieved on 2 November, 2007.
- ^ a b c Franklin, Stephen (2007-09-25). “Government cracks down on ID fraud by illegal immigrants“. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved on 2 November, 2007.
- ^ a b c Casey, Winter (2007-08-10). “Administration announces border, immigration initiatives“. National Journal’s Technology Daily. Retrieved on 2 November, 2007.
- ^ “House Appropriations Committee approves Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, rejects E-Verify extension“. Wolter Kluwer (2008-07-07). Retrieved on 15 July, 2008.
- ^ “Department of Homeland Security 2009 Budget Proposal“. The White House (2008-02-04). Retrieved on 5 February, 2008.
- ^ Schoeff, Mark (2008-11-14). “Regulation Requires Federal Contractors to Use E-Verify“. Crain Communications Inc.. Retrieved on 14 November, 2008.