I-9 and E-Verify Immigration Panel Meets to Discuss the Latest Trends in 2010

Today, an immigration panel of experts in the field met in Memphis, Tennessee to discuss I-9s, E-Verify, and State Verification Laws in the tri-state area (Tennessee, Mississippi, & Arkansas). The panel featured Greg Siskind and Lynn Susser (from the venerable immigration firm bearing their names); Michael Mayhew, Chief/Special Operations of the Verifications Division  (from USCIS) ; Marty Barton and Charles Rodriguez (from Adams Keegan, a leading HR management company); and yours truly (from LawLogix), speaking on electronic I-9s. The call to action of the event was to empower employers (and HR reps in particular) to proactively address employment eligibility compliance issues in light of today’s enforcement trends. Whether that empowerment comes through a deeper understanding of the I-9 process and state laws (as counseled by Siskind and Susser), more diligent I-9 auditing (as promoted by Adams Keegan) or adopting an electronic solution (strongly suggested by LawLogix), the message is clear: now is the time to tackle this important compliance issue. The panel was also very fortunate to have Mr. Mayhew (who is considered to be the top E-Verify official from DHS) to enlighten us on the inner workings of E-Verify as well as the government’s future plans for the system. After speaking with Mr. Mayhew, it’s clear to me that he (and others at DHS) are listening to employers’ concerns about E-Verify. Here is a brief sampling of E-Verify improvements coming soon (according to Mr. Mayhew):

  • Employers who submit E-Verify verification queries late (beyond 3 business days after start date) will be able to write a short explanation for the delay in a new “explanation” field. This will come in handy for employers who were unable to meet the deadline for a variety of reasons (e.g., employee waiting for SSN to be issued). This will also aid E-Verify data mining efforts, by allowing the Compliance and Monitoring branch to make exceptions for cases that appear to be nonconforming.
  • To further combat issues of identity theft, E-Verify will be adding US passports to the photo matching tool (by linking to DOS databases). Mr. Mayhew also indicated that US passport mismatches will be initially handled by DHS (creating the only time that a citizen will receive a DHS TNC).
  • Self-check initiative to allow individuals to check their status in E-Verify (completely independent of employment), which the DHS hopes will reduce the number of preventable problems (e.g., individual has not updated a name change with the SSA).

With regards to that last point, Mr. Mayhew reiterated the importance of employee privacy (the DHS recent civil rights initiatives are clear proof of that), and he seemed pleased that software vendors (such as LawLogix) are taking great pains to protect employee data through the use of encryption, restricted access policies, and overall best practices. Prior to the event, several panelists were interviewed by a local reporter from Memphis Daily News. That article, which discusses the recent enforcement trends, can be viewed online here.