Legislation has been introduced by the Senate that would permanently authorize and require all employers to use the E-Verify program to check that new hires are eligible to work in the United States.
The Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act of 2015, the Senate bill, would make E-Verify mandatory for all employers within one year, require use on current employees within three years and allow for use on prospective workers. The legislation has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
E-Verify checks the information from a worker’s I-9 form against Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records to ensure that they are eligible to work in the US. Currently the program is voluntary for most employers, except in some states and for federal contractors. There are 580,000 US employers at this time using the program.
In March, the House Judiciary Committee approved the Legal Workforce Act which would repeal the current paper-based I-9 system and require all U.S. employers to verify the work eligibility of future hires through the government’s E-Verify system. The bill passed and is now cleared for full house consideration.
The House legislation calls for a gradual phase-in for new hires in six month increments beginning on the date of enactment. Businesses employing more than 10,000 people would be required to use E-Verify within six months of enactment. Within 12 months of enactment, employers with 500 to 9,999 employees would be required to use the system. Eighteen months after enactment, businesses with 20 to 499 employees would be required to use it. And 24 months after enactment, businesses employing up to 19 workers would have to comply.
Differences Between the Senate and the House Legislation
- Require compliance after one year
- Employees who are not confirmed by the system would be allowed to contest the findings
- Employers would be required to check the work authorization of existing employees within three years through the system
- Allow employers to check the employment authorization of prospective employees
- Phase in the requirement to use E-Verify over a two-year period
- Agriculture industry would have three years to comply with the mandate
- Employers would be allowed, but not required, to check existing employees’ status
- Not allow employers to check the employment authorization of prospective employees