E-Verify is an electronic database designed to use the information reported on an employee’s Form I-9 to determine the eligibility of that employee to work in the United States. The number of states requiring its use is expected to increase in 2012, the federal government will require all companies to use E-Verify in the near future. Employers who violate E-Verify’s rules may be liable for lost wages and subject to civil penalties.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), employers may hire only persons who may legally work in the United States (i.e., citizens and nationals of the U.S.) and aliens authorized to work in the U.S. The employer must verify the identity and employment eligibility of anyone to be hired, which includes completing the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9). Employers must keep each I-9 on file for at least three years, or one year after employment ends, whichever is longer.
I-9 Errors are costly
What is very important for employers to know about this government enforcement strategy is that ICE is mainly performing document inspections – not work site raids. During the ICE investigation each one of your employee’s Forms I-9 will be scrutinized and ANY ERROR, no matter how seemingly insignificant, will be penalized with a fine. Most of the companies audited and fined last year did not knowingly employ illegal workers; they had simply made mistakes while completing the Form I-9 and were fined for I-9 errors.
Social Security “no match” letters
A Social Security “no match” letter puts both the employer and the employee on notice that the Social Security Administration was unable to match the worker’s Social Security number to the worker’s name listed on the W-2 provided by the employer. The letter is not necessarily an indication of wrongdoing. Mistakes such as name changes, typographical errors and incomplete information may be the cause. The “no match” letter also does not mean that any adverse action should be taken, such as firing, suspending, or discriminating against the employee.
It is important to understand that how an employer responds to the letter can expose the company to criminal or civil liability. Ignoring the letter or failing to comply with the new ruling can result in thousands of dollars in fines. For further guidance in how to respond and to avoid any legal consequences, contact our office for a consultation.