E-Verify Use Hits Half-Million Mark


By Roy Maurer January 27, 2014

More than 500,000 employers now use E-Verify, the government’s electronic employment eligibility verification system, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Jan. 23, 2014. Operating since1996, E-Verify is a predominantly voluntary service that U.S. employers use to confirm new hires’ eligibility to work.

“Since it was established, E-Verify has experienced exponential growth, increased accuracy and high customer-satisfaction ratings,” said USCIS Acting Director Lori Scialabba. “Participation in E-Verify is largely voluntary, so the fact that half a million companies have signed up demonstrates significant confidence in the program. Employers using E-Verify find it helps them maintain a legal workforce in a quick, secure and accurate way.”

During the program’s first 16 years annual enrollments increased tenfold, from 11,474 in fiscal year (FY) 1996 to 111,671 in FY 2012. In FY 2013, employers used E-Verify more than 25 million times, according to USCIS.

For years, USCIS has been touting system improvements and a better customer experience. According to the agency, 98.8 percent of work-authorized employees are confirmed instantly or within 24 hours, requiring no further action from the business or the individual.

And companies seem to appreciate the efficiency improvements: In March 2013, USCIS announced that 1,300 randomly selected employers across the nation that use E-Verify gave it it an “exceptionally high” rating for overall customer satisfaction, with an average score of 86 out of 100 on the American Customer Satisfaction Index. By contrast, the average score for government agencies was 67.

Recent system enhancements include:

  • The introduction of Self Check, which allows individuals to look up their employment eligibility status and correct their records before they seek work.
  • The capability to combat identity fraud by locking Social Security numbers suspected of being misused for employment eligibility verification.
  • A redesigned website to include “more plain-language content and easy-to-follow graphics.”

The Senate and the House have immigration reform proposals mandating E-Verify nationwide. Both bills would phase in employers’ obligation to use an E-Verify program over a period of years, depending on an organization’s size.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Council for Global Immigration are advocating for a single “reliable and secure” verification system that pre-empts state laws and uses identity-authentication tools, such as knowledge-based authentication, to protect against identity theft so that businesses can confidently hire work-authorized employees.

“The current E-Verify program can be defeated by identity theft,” said Mike Aitken, SHRM vice president for government affairs. “While E-Verify can confirm that the documents presented by a job applicant are real, it cannot confirm that the prospective employee is the person who owns that identity. This leaves the door open for unauthorized individuals to use impostor identities to gain verification of work authorization.”

To commemorate the half-million-participant milestone, USCIS has released “E-Verify for Business Leaders,” a new video that introduces the program’s benefits to prospective users.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him at @SHRMRoy

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