What Is E-Verify? Learn the Requirements and How to Improve the Process

An illustration of a woman sitting in front of her laptop, performing a background check online

As of August 2023, a new Form I-9 is available. Among several updates, this streamlined version has a designated checkbox for employers to show they’ve virtually verified the documents required to complete this form, eliminating the need for an in-person review.

Great for businesses with remote workforces, this alternative procedure makes it easier to examine IDs, birth certificates, and other documents proving employment eligibility. The caveat is the employer is required to use E-Verify and comply with certain program requirements to do so.

Having a proper E-Verify policy in place can help make this step in the virtual onboarding process simpler. With updated guidance, your company can better support the modern workforce, ensure proper document handling, and avoid significant penalties down the road.

BambooHR gives companies the tools they need to manage employee data in a secure, centralized location. With our HR data and reporting software, companies can feel confident their sensitive information is safe, secure, and compliant. Here, we’ll discuss more about E-Verify, recent updates to the program, and the ways you can improve your employment verification process in-house.

What Is E-Verify?

E-Verify is a web-based system organizations use to confirm their new hires are eligible to work in the US. Administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), this handy tool takes information from an employee’s Form I-9 and compares it to government records.

As an HR professional or hiring manager, the E-Verify program makes it easy to ensure your business complies with workforce laws and regulations. You can protect your company against document fraud, monitor usage in the system, provide proof of verification to government auditors, and more.

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E-Verify Requirements

E-Verify is free, user-friendly, and accessible 24/7 to participating organizations. Employers must present physical and/or digital E-Verify “Notice of Participation” and Department of Justice “Right to Work” posters, letting people know they participate in the program.

The process only begins after a new hire accepts a job offer from your company. Between then and their third day of employment, you can confirm their eligibility to work following these steps:

  1. Create a case in E-Verify: Enter your employee’s information from their I-9 form.
  2. Review the results: Initial results display within seconds, but some may require action.
  3. Close the case: After the final results display, E-Verify tells you how to close the case.

Once complete, simply record the employee’s case number or save the full results for your records.

E-Verify NextGen

Launching incrementally throughout 2024, E-Verify NextGen streamlines the verification process even further with a new employee-facing portal. Using this feature, employees input their personal information and documentation themselves. It’s then shared, e-signed by both parties, and compiled into a completed I-9 for the employer to download.

E-Verify NextGen is designed to coexist with the current system for seamless integration. The goal is to reduce data-entry errors, improve efficiency, and give greater ownership to the worker. Plus, it allows most digitally verified employees to carry their credentials to subsequent employers.

E-Verify Requirements by State

For many US businesses, electronically confirming employment through E-Verify is a voluntary step. Making this part of your new-hire onboarding checklist supports a legal workforce and helps reduce your company’s risk. However, requirements differ by state and federal regulation. Some states require E-Verify for certain public employers, contractors, and private businesses, while others mandate all employers use it.

On the federal level, it’s mandatory for contractors and subcontractors subject to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) clause. The FAR rule helps promote fair, standardized processes for acquiring products and services, and E-Verify supports this initiative.

Do You Have to Use E-Verify for All Employees?

Electronic verification isn’t something that can be done selectively. Participating employers are obligated to apply the same process to all new employees, preventing discrimination based on citizenship, immigration status, and other factors. You must start using E-Verify for new hires from the day your company enrolls in the program.

Special rules apply to federal contractors and subcontractors. For instance, in addition to authenticating new hires, you must either E-Verify the existing employees covered under the applicable contract or your entire current workforce. This excludes employees who meet certain criteria, such as:

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How to Improve the E-Verify Process

Just like a good first impression, onboarding helps set the tone for the employee-employer relationship. While determining employment eligibility is fairly straightforward, effectively managing your E-Verify process long-term ensures this stage of the recruitment process goes smoothly.

Set Clear Expectations Around Employment Eligibility

As an HR manager, it’s your job to educate new hires on your organization’s onboarding best practices. Start by establishing clear expectations around employment eligibility with your team and sharing them with employees from the get-go. Clear lines of communication during each onboarding phase cultivate better transparency across your organization and a more positive employee experience.

In this instance, it could mean designating a hiring manager to handle the E-Verify process, showing them how to do it properly, and outlining key deadlines. It also involves discussing how the process works with new hires. Let them know what they need to complete their I-9 form and what happens if E-Verify can’t confirm eligibility.

Provide Clear Instructions for I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification

Form I-9 is the key to the E-Verify system. New hires need to know which sections they fill out on the hardcopy, or (as of 2024) how to do it all online. Typically, an employee receives this form on or before their first day of work, which is when they’re expected to complete their portion.

As part of the authentication process, employees must present original documentation to prove they’re authorized to work in the US. Form I-9 instructions clearly define what counts as acceptable documentation in three distinct categories:

List A documents establish both identity and employment authorization:

List B documents confirm identity:

For those under age 18, acceptable List B documents include:

List C documents show employment authorization:

The employee must provide one document from List A for review or present one document from List B and one document from List C. In some cases, the employee may submit receipts in lieu of original documentation.

Establish an Employment Verification Letter Process While You’re At It

E-Verify best practices go hand-in-hand with other HR compliance policies. While establishing processes around employment authentication, consider defining ones for employment verification letter requests. HR teams fulfill this task quite frequently, and it’s another that requires diligent recordkeeping.

An employment verification letter is written by an employer to verify that a person currently works or previously worked at your company. It generally includes employment dates, salary, and other key information a third party may need to know and is often requested when someone:

Using an employment verification letter template and your employee’s records, it’s easy to fulfill this request with personal details. And implementing a consistent process helps ensure it’s done quickly, accurately, and with current privacy laws in mind.

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