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The federal government imposes a duty on Wheaton employers to verify the employment authorization of those they hire. Although employers cannot ask for detailed information about immigration status and employment eligibility during the hiring process, they are required to collect this information within three days of the time the employee starts to work.

The process for verifying employee authorization status in Wheaton may vary somewhat depending on whether an employer uses the E-Verify electronic system set up by the U.S. government. Use of the E-Verify system can increase the certainty in the verification process, but it may not work in every situation. Let an attorney help you through this process.

The Need for Employment Verification

When Wheaton employers engage with employees on the work authorization verification process, they are ascertaining that the employee’s identity matches what is claimed and that the employee meets the immigration requirements to work legally in the U.S. Employers must collect information on Form I-9.

To verify the information provided on the form, the employee must produce documents to prove identity and work authorization. Employers are expected to examine the documents to determine their authenticity.

While the employer does not need to submit the I-9 form to the government, businesses must keep these forms on file and produce them for inspection when asked. Failure to maintain accurate and complete information can subject the company to substantial fines and other penalties.

The I-9 Form vs. E-Verify

There is some confusion about the differences between the paper I-9 form and the E-Verify system. E-Verify is not simply an electronic version of the I-9 form. All employees must fill out Form I-9 and employers must complete the verification section while examining identifying documents provided by the employee.
Although the I-9 form is mandatory, use of the E-Verify system is voluntary for most businesses, although some companies are required to use the system because of their federal contracts.

The E-Verify system compares information on the I-9 form with information in other government databases. A match on the information verifies the employee’s authorization status. However, to complete the verification process, E-Verify requires input of the employee’s Social Security number and photo identification.

Some employees who are eligible to work legally in the U.S. do not have photo IDs or a Social Security number, so the E-Verify system cannot be used to verify their authorization. E-Verify also may not be used to re-verify authorization that has expired.

Verifying Employment Authorization

The process for evaluating employment authorization starts with completion of Form I-9. To prove identity and employment eligibility, the employee provides documentation selected from a list of possible credentials described in the form’s instructions. The employer may not require workers to provide specific documents as long as they supply credentials that meet the requirements.

Companies are expected to examine the documents provided to ensure that they appear reasonably authentic. However, if they scrutinize the documents too closely, they could open themselves to the potential for discrimination accusations.

Assistance with the Process for Verifying Employee Authorization Status in Wheaton

When an employer is able to use the E-Verify system, the comparison between photos and information on file can allow an employer to feel secure that an employee’s work authorization is authentic. However, when the E-Verify system is unable to produce a positive result or cannot be used at all, the employer must exercise discretion in reviewing and determining the authenticity of verification documents.

To straddle the fine line between asking enough questions to ensure I-9 compliance and avoiding over-scrutiny which could be taken as a sign of discrimination, many employers choose to consult an experienced immigration attorney for guidance. The process for verifying employee authorization status in Wheaton requires thoughtful planning. Employers should establish procedures to ensure the process is completed in the same manner for every employee if possible.

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