E‑Verify Program Showing Improvement, Concerns Remain

By October 16, 2013News & Press

A new report released by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services indicates that there is increased accuracy in the previously glitchy E‑Verify program.

The E‑Verify program is designed to electronically verify new hires to ensure that they are legally authorized to work in the U.S. A Westat report was run to evaluate how often a “Tentative Nonconfirmations” or TNCs and a “Final Nonconfirmations” or FNCs were erroneously issued to workers. A TNC may occur when an employee’s government records and I-9 information conflict. A TNC notification must be contested by the worker. An FNC notification may occur when that worker does not contest the TNC. The report concluded that the number of “erroneous TNCs” dropped in some areas, including for U.S. citizens. But the number of erroneous TNCs has not dropped for permanent residents and some other non‑U.S. citizens.

The Westat report found that the rate of E‑Verify erroneous TNCs in 2009 was 0.3 percent, on a decline, but the decrease has been attributed to the erroneous TNC drop of 0.2 percent for U.S. citizens. The rate of erroneous TNCs for permanent residents was 0.7 percent, and 4.2 percent for employment‑authorized noncitizens. The overall rate for noncitizens who had erroneous TNCs was an unyielding 1.5 percent. The report found that the program’s overall accuracy rate was 94 percent, as measured by the number of workers who accurately received FNCs. The report found that the error rate was mostly attributable to a failure of employees to inform employers that they had a TNC, or a failure to explain adequately the TNC process. The breakdown in the information system is what often led authentically authorized workers to receive FNCs.

Currently, E‑Verify is a voluntary program in most states, though it is mandated in some places, including for some federal contractors. It is uncertain when or if E-Verify will be implemented nationally; the topic is currently before Congress. It is possible that as many as one million workers authorized to work may be erroneously given a TNC, which is expected to put a significant strain on employers. If the system becomes mandatory nationwide, extensive systems will need to be put into place by employers to adequately address issues as they arise and ensure that employees are aware of the process and how to address TNCs.

The federal law currently requires employers to employ workers who are legally cleared to work in the U.S., either as legal citizens, or as foreign citizens with formal authorization to do so. E-Verify is a system put into place to identify workers who may not have legal authorization to work.

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