USCIS Updates E-Verify Resource Website

The USCIS has been busy updating and organizing its E-Verify resources.  Its “Questions and Answers” webpage has been strategically re-organized, giving us many reasons to cheer this season!

Incorporating Revision Dates

In the past, many employers have expressed concern that changes on the USCIS webpage, whether on I-9 Central or the E-Verify homepage, are often made without informing the public as evidenced by a lack of any revision dates on the webpages.   The fact that the USCIS has incorporated “revision dates” for particularized questions and answers is a step in the right direction to inform the public of changes that often (and significantly) impact employer processes.  This is important and quite a big step forward, giving us reason to cheer!

USCIS Incorporates “Revision Dates”

Streamlined Questions

The categories in the Q&A page have also been streamlined into topics according to stakeholder groups.  This makes perfect sense because questions asked by employees are likely going to be different than those posed by E-verify Employer Agents.  Bringing sensibility into the FAQ site is another reason to cheer.

Questions at a Glance

In the past, you’ll recall USCIS provided Q&As in a format that required readers to scroll through paragraphs of text and strings of answers (similar to the current format here).  Now, one can quickly review questions at a glance, saving much more time.  The USCIS has adopted a much more streamlined user interface by listing all of the questions on one landing page and then allowing users to select the questions that most apply to them.  Because the website is not a true, interactive site, the USCIS stops short of enabling the public to pose questions on the actual landing page.  Though, the Department of Homeland Security has notified the public that E-Verify staff are available to answer questions:

The E-Verify Customer Support Hotline can be reached at 1-888-464-4218 with customer support specialists manning the hotline from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Friday across all three time zones. USCIS also maintains the E-VERIFY@dhs.gov mailbox, where a customer can email the E-Verify program and expect a response within 24 – 48 hours.

Addition of Monitoring and Compliance

One category the USCIS added with much more clarification is a page dedicated to monitoring and compliance of E-Verify.  This topic remains a hot-button issue that was introduced by one of our guest attorneys, Anthony Weigel, earlier this year on our blog.

If your organization is enrolled or considering enrolling in the federal E-Verify program, you’ll recall that prior to enrollment, employers are required to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the USCIS.  Part of that agreement also requires employers to permit the USCIS to monitor E-Verify usage to ensure compliance.

To date, the jury is still out on how the USCIS will manage monitoring and compliance, particularly as we move into 2013.  Will employers face an increase in civil penalties or will the USCIS take this as an opportunity to engage and dialogue with employers?  The answer the USCIS provided in late November certainly does not quell employer concerns but as least the USCIS is slowly developing a robust Q&A to address new questions as they arise.

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In review, the modifications to the website, no matter how minor, moves the site one step closer to become a more reliable resource for the public.  For this, the USCIS should get a round of applause!  Whether the answers provided by the USCIS are substantively correct or sound is something organizations independently decide after consulting with experienced legal counsel. We hope that these changes, especially the Revision Dates, will ultimately be applied uniformly across all agency websites, including for ICE, DHS, and other USCIS programs.