New Budget and Priorities for DHS FY2014 Affecting I-9 and E-Verify
With the first quarter firmly behind us, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently released its budget plans for Fiscal Year 2014. New developments related to E-Verify are in store.
The budget for U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), the agency that oversees the federal E-Verify program, is $3.2 billion dollars, an increase of 5% from the previous year. Meanwhile, the budget for Immigration and Customs Enforcements (ICE), the agency that conducts I-9 audits, is $5.3 billion, down 11% from the previous year.
DHS’ four mission objectives remain unchanged from years past:
- Preventing Terrorism and Enhancing Security
- Securing and Managing Our Borders
- Enforcing and Administering our Immigration Laws
- Safeguarding and Securing Cyberspace
- Ensuring Resilience to Disasters
Part of DHS policies include plenty of funding for the E-Verify program through appropriates to USCIS. The budget for Fiscal Year 2014 provides for $114 million to fund E-Verify. Funding would continue to pay for a continued expansion of and enhancements to the E-Verify system with the ultimate objective of allowing individual more control over how their social security numbers are used in E-Verify. [This likely refers to the “locking” mechanism that DHS has testified to earlier this year in congressional hearings.]
Curiously, DHS indicates that USCIS will continue to implement an “enhanced enrollment process” for the E-Verify program with the goal of making it less burdensome on employers by (eventually) offering an electronic I-9 component to E-Verify…. (We’ll have to wait to see what that looks like!)
Part of USCIS’ enhancements to E-Verify includes integrating the Verification Information System (VIS), a “major redesign” of E-Verify. USCIS has budgeted $11.5 million for this particular project in hopes of achieving:
- Development and reduction in transaction costs
- Improved and scalable system architecture
- Enhanced data matching logic that will reduce false negatives
- Deterrence and prevention of identity fraud by enabling individuals to create accounts and lock their social security numbers in the system
- Modular MOU agreements
- Revised employer trainings and tutorials
It’s no surprise USCIS is putting as much money behind E-Verify as it can. The success of the program in recent years is bolstered by Congress’ eagerness to include the program as part of comprehensive immigration reform.
According to DHS, USCIS registers nearly 175 new companies and confirms the employment eligibility of more than 58,000 new hires in the U.S. each day. Employer enrollment since January 2009 has doubled. In Fiscal Year 2012, more than 21 million queries were processed in E-Verify (up from 21 million queries in Fiscal Year 2011). Its budget for Fiscal Year 2014 has increased from the previous year by $144 million, with an additional full-time staff of more than 2,300 employees slated.
Employers already enrolled in E-Verify may experience new enhancements in the future. Employers not already enrolled may find it sooner, rather than later, that enrollment will be mandatory. It may sense to start preparing now. You can read more about how we can help here. We’ll keep you posted on the developments.