September 6, 2018

Here’s What’s Next for E-Verify

 |  By: Mike Opperman

Revisions to a bill making its way through Congress would require all U.S. employers to use E-verify to verify the immigration status of workers. If approved the Ag and Legal Workforce Act (AG Act) would phase in E-verify over time and phase out the current I-9 system.

Provisions within the AG Act could make it easier for employers to know if the documentation being offered to verify immigration status accurately represents the person applying for the job, one of the most difficult parts of the hiring process for dairy producers.

According to the American Dairy Coalition (ADC), under the AG Act agricultural guest workers would undergo background checks and interviews in order to be certified by the Department of Homeland Security and granted a visa by the Department of State. When those guest workers apply for employment, employers would then verify all new hire documentation through the e-verify system.

“It’s important for agriculture employers to have a system in place they can use to assure the people they hire are who they say they are, and the AG Act allows for certainty in the hiring process” says Laurie Fischer, ADC CEO. “However, ADC will only will support E-verify if a guest worker visa provision is part of the bill.  We can’t have one without the other.”

According to Kelly Fortier, partner and immigration sub-practice leader with Michael Best & Friedrich, LLP, E-Verify is a system that should catch the misuse of documents that have been issued by the federal government, for example, for permanent residence cards issued by the Department of Homeland Security.

“When that document is run through, the employer will actually see a copy of what the government issued and they can check right away to see if the document on the E-Verify screen looks like the document presented,” Fortier says.

Going through the process of background checks and interviews is something that some guest workers already in the U.S. would welcome, Fischer says.

“It will allow many within our immigrant workforce to come out of the shadows and get documents such as a driver’s license and other identification that they can’t get today,” Fischer says.

Regardless of the requirements placed on the verification programs, there are still opportunities for fraudulent employees to fool unsuspecting employers. If someone is able to obtain legitimate and legal documentation, and the picture on the photo ID closely resembles the person applying for employment, Fortier says there’s nothing in the system that would flag that person as illegal.