Immigration E-Verify System for Employers

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 What Is Immigration Law?

Immigration laws regulate how a person from another country may qualify for a visa, and under what circumstances they may be deported back to their country of origin. There are many different types of available temporary and permanent visas. As such, depending on the purpose for a person’s entry into the United States, there will most likely be a visa that suits their needs.

Many immigrants who already legally reside in the United States have a green card, or a permanent visa. Those with green cards may seek to be citizens, but they must refrain from any activities that may bring deportation or removal upon them. Citizenship and naturalization applicants are people who are applying to be citizens of the United States.

Having a solid understanding of the naturalization process, as well as the correct information regarding citizenship, is imperative. The links below provide information for those who are interested in United States citizenship and learning more about eligibility requirements, as well as the application process:

Immigration terminology such as a “visa” and “green card” may be confusing as these labels are often used interchangeably, although they refer to two different things. It is also common for these terms to be used in ways that are different from their original meanings.

A visa provides a person with the right to enter the United States legally. It is a physical stamp that a person receives on their passport or an equivalent document. The term visa also refers to a category in which a person comes to the United States for a temporary stay, such as a student visa or a temporary worker visa.

The term green card refers to the process of obtaining United States citizenship, rather than simply entering into the country. The term green card application may refer to a process associated with immigration, including an adjustment of status or naturalization.

The emphasis of a green card is on citizenship and residency status, as opposed to admissibility into the United States. Physically, a green card is a plastic photo identification card that a person receives when they are granted lawful permanent resident status.

It is important to note that a green card is also known as a permanent visa, even though the term visa generally refers to temporary visa categories. This may provide some clarification regarding these terms.

A person who is immigrating to the United States may be eligible for multiple types of visas. As such, the type of visa that a person applies for will largely depend on whether they intend to stay permanently or for a short time.

If a person is a non-immigrant that resides outside of the United States and wishes to enter the country for business or travel, they may be eligible to receive a temporary visa. This type of visa allows the holder to travel to the United States for a short period of time.

Political asylum is provided to those who immigrate to the United States in order to flee persecution or civil disturbances in their own country. Political asylum allows a person to stay within the United States, rather than returning to their home country and facing possible violence.

What Is The Immigration E-Verify System For Employers? How Does It Work?

E-Verify is a free internet program that allows employers to verify whether their immigrant employees are eligible for work in the United States. The program was initiated by the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) in 1997, but has greatly evolved since.

It is estimated that more than 700,000 employers use the program nationwide, with about 1,400 new companies signing up for it each week. Additionally, the use of the E-Verify program is mandatory in some states, and for some employers.

By law, an employer and employee must complete a Form I-9 once the employee is hired for pay. The employer enters information from the employee’s Form I-9 into the E-Verify database, and a case is created for the employee.

The E-Verify system will run a comparison between the Form I-9 and the employee’s immigration information from other government records, including their:

  • U.S. passport and visa;
  • Immigration and naturalization records;
  • State-issued driver’s licenses and identity document; and
  • Social Security Administration records.

The program will create results based on whether the information matches, which may appear in as little as 3-5 seconds. If the information does not match, the employee cannot start working. Additionally, the employer and employee have only 8 federal working days in which to resolve any mismatched or incorrect information.

Currently, E-Verify is not mandatory for all employers. However, as was previously mentioned, registration with the E-Verify system is required in some employment situations. An example of this would be federal government employees, as well as some federal contractors. Additionally, airport operators have the option to use the program for their badging application process.

At least twenty states have laws associated with mandatory use of the E-verify program, although it is sometimes only required in certain counties or situations. Regardless, employers should become familiar with this program as it is likely to become mandatory in the future.

What Else Should I Know About The I-9 Form?

The Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and is used by employers to verify that an employee is legally eligible to work in the United States. It is an employer’s responsibility to verify identity as well as work authorization, and to complete and keep Form I-9.

Form I-9 contains a list of documents which a person can submit to verify eligibility to work in the U.S. These required documents are intended to establish identity and employment eligibility. There are 3 lists of documents that are required by Form I-9.

“List A” contains documents that establish both identity and employment eligibility; any single document from this list is sufficient. These documents include:

  • A U.S. passport;
  • An unexpired foreign passport with an I-551 stamp;
  • A permanent resident card;
  • An unexpired temporary resident card;
  • An unexpired employment authorization card; and
  • An unexpired employment authorization card issued by the Department of Homeland Security.

Recently, 5 documents have been removed from “List A,” meaning they are no longer valid to establish identity and eligibility. These include:

  • The certificate of U.S. citizenship;
  • A certificate of naturalization;
  • An alien registration receipt;
  • An unexpired reentry permit; and
  • An unexpired refugee travel document.

These changes were made so that the form would comply with the document reduction requirements of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.

If the applicant cannot produce a document from “List A,” they must produce one document each from “List B” (which establishes identity) and “List C” (to establish eligibility to work):

  1. Verifying Identity with “List B” Documents: “List B” documents include a driver’s license or I.D. card issued by a U.S. state; a school I.D. card with a photograph; a voter registration card; and other similar documents; or
  2. Verifying Employment Eligibility with “List C” Documents: “List C” documents include a U.S. social security card; a birth certificate from the U.S.; a U.S. citizen I.D. card; and other similar documents.

Do I Need An Immigration Lawyer?

If you are unsure of your state’s E-Verify laws, you should consult an immigration lawyer for advice. Consulting can also protect you from liability.

An immigration attorney can help you understand your state’s current requirements regarding the E-Verify system, and will also be able to represent you in court, as needed, should any legal issues arise.

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