E-Verify: “Safe Harbor” for Employers?

E-Verify is voluntary program run by the United States Federal government to allow employers to validate the information provided by their employees to see if they are authorized to work in the United States. At this time, assuming that you’re not a federal contractor, it is voluntary. If an employer has employees who are F-1 students who are on the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program AND they are STEM (Science, Technology, Engingeering & Mathematics), then it’s a great boon for all because they automatically extend their OPT period for a toal of 17 months (see post below).

In short, an employer signs on (the program is free) and then fills in information on his employees’ I-9 (which is required of every employee in the US) and then E-Verify compares it to the Social Security Administration’s database, along with the Department of Homeland Security’s database to see if the I-9 info is correct as stated and if there’s anyone that’s been listed as a potential threat to the United States.

An employer should be safe if he or she complies with the E-Verify requirements of inputing the information given to them by the employee — but the “safe harbor” provisions aren’t really in place — which is a cause of concern for anyone participating. USCIS says so itself — no “safe harbor” for E-Verify. And when I say “safe harbor” it means that the employer is safe from liability if he or she complies with all the requirements of E-verify.

Essentially, anyone who puts info into E-Verify that is false or creates a red flag bascially supplies the information for their own liability, but aren’t given is any extra credit for attempting to comply with federal law. Yes, only our federal government would truly attempt to let no good deed go unpunished.

Of course, the federal government indicates that it creates a “rebuttable” presumption that one did not indeed hire an unauthorized individual to work, but it’s not strong enough of a guarantee as I would like if I were willingly putting myself at the mercy of E-Verify.

The US Federal Government has ordered all federal contractors to get on the program. Certain aspects of the program are embroiled ina federal suit.  There are some concerns about the program, read this very information article.

Many people say that the future will require mandatory participation in E-Verify for all employers. I would want more safeguards before that day arrives.

For those of you who still want to enroll in E-Verify, you can go here to register.

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