Will E-Verify Become Mandatory for All Employers? It Will if the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Bill Passes

A critical component of the Comprehensive Immigration Reform package, put together by the so-called “Gang of Eight,” is a provision that would require all employers to participate in the E-Verify program.

E-Verify is an electronic employment eligibility verification system which determines whether information in a new hire’s Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification Form) matches government records. It is a voluntary program, except for certain federal government contractors and employers based in a handful of states.

This Act, called the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act, would phase in employers’ obligation to use E-Verify over a period of five years, depending on the number of employees of the employer. The Bill would require certain enhancements of the current program, including requiring non-citizen hires to have either a biometric work authorization or biometric green card and other anti-identify theft measures.

Many provisions in this mammoth 850 page Bill are controversial. However, the E-Verify provisions are, for the most part, not. If comprehensive immigration reform is adopted, employers should anticipate that this E-Verify provision, or something very similar to it, will be part of the law.

This development is encouraging employers to consider getting “ahead of the curve” and registering for E-Verify, particularly given the interim advantages. For instance, under current law, an E-Verify employer can obtain a 17-month extension of Optional Practical Training for foreign graduates. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services puts it simply: “Get with the program”.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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