The beginning of Q4 traditionally marks a complex hiring rush thanks to the holidays and looming end-of-the-year budgeting. The employment verification process can be tricky for employers, particularly when it comes to Form I-9 and E-Verify requirements – and yes, they’re two completely different processes.
The fact is, many employers don’t recognize what can happen in the case of a slip-up. An employer in Minneapolis recently found this out the hard way after being ordered to pay $209,600 in civil penalties for hundreds of I-9 violations. These heavy fines are more common than you’d think, and penalties can range from moderate to severe. An E-Verify check can help prevent this, and it only takes a few moments.
Know the difference
Form I-9 is used by an employer to document an employee’s identity and eligibility to be employed legally in the U.S.
An E-Verify check, on the other hand, compares information from an employee’s Form I-9 with data from some of the top guns to confirm employment eligibility (think the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Social Security Administration, which includes millions of government records).
Many employers incorrectly think that E-Verify is the electronic equivalent of Form I-9. The two actually work together to validate that an employee is authorized to work in the U.S. E-Verify does not replace Form I-9.
Another difference between Form I-9 and E-Verify is that Form I-9 is mandatory for all employers, while E-Verify is voluntary for most employers, and only mandatory for employers with federal contracts (and subcontracts) containing a FAR E-Verify clause. Employers in some states have further (and differing) requirements regarding the use of E-Verify. Whereas Form I-9 is filled out by both the employee and the employer, E-Verify is only handled by the employer or its representative. For additional verification purposes, only E-Verify employers can require a social security number from the employee when completing Section 1 of Form I-9. Finally, Form I-9 must be used in order to re-verify and authorize expired employment, but E-Verify can’t be used to do so.
Know the benefits
Even though using E-Verify is optional for most employers, there are many benefits to opting in. E-Verify participation is the only way an employer can ensure a legal workplace whose employees have been verified as eligible to work in the U.S., and for potential employees, it’s helpful because it speeds the hiring process along
If you’re using an electronic Form I-9, E-Verify can cut down on time immensely by pulling information right from the form, eliminating human error. If the information matches all major databases, you’ll know almost instantly. If not, you’ll receive a Tentative Non-Confirmation, or a TNC, to let you know exactly where the discrepancy is.
Above all else, using E-Verify is a confidence booster. Stats show that 98.93% of E-Verify cases are automatically confirmed as work authorized, and for the ones that aren’t, only 0.27% remain unresolved. This means you can rest assured that these checks are accurate, comprehensive and verifiable.
Know the common (and easy to miss) errors
In working with our clients here at HireRight on filling out Form I-9, we’ve seen a number of common processing errors. By practicing extra vigilance, employers can eradicate these mistakes to avoid penalties. The top errors are:
- Incorrect or missing forms
- Being out of compliance with the three-day rule, where Form I-9 must be completed within three business days of an employee’s first day of work
- Failure to re-verify after Form I-9 expiration date in cases of work-authorized aliens,
- Invalid identifying documents
- Improper document maintenance
- A lack of supporting documentation for E-Verify photo matching, a comparison through the system to prevent employees from using false identifying documents.
Using an electronic I-9 solution is a great way to help prevent some of these mistakes.
Government I-9 audits have decreased in the last two years after rising sharply since 2009. However, with the hike this summer in penalties for violations , it’s imperative that every employer knows Form I-9 inside and out, and E-Verify can help.