What Employers Should Be Doing While Waiting for Mandatory E-Verify

[Editor’s Note: Today’s follow-up article is courtesy of Ms. L. Batya Schwartz Ehrens, an Immigration Attorney practicing in the state of New York. Ms. Ehrens’ expertise includes I-9 compliance and E-Verify, global mobility, and immigration advocacy.]

In my last post, I told the story of How one New York Village Tackled the E-Verify Issue. Suffern Village’s approach to E-Verify is not uncommon. In fact, many employers (both public and private), when faced with the decision to enroll in E-Verify, encounter the same challenges in conducting a cost-benefit analysis, regardless of where they may be located.

The tips below offer some guidance to employers nationwide for steps to take while considering whether or not to enroll in E-Verify, and what to do if the decision to enroll has been elected. Here are my A+ Tips for Employers:

1. Assign an individual in your organization as the lead program evaluator for enrollment decision-making. The decision to enroll is not always straightforward, and may not benefit the organization. It is important that someone reviews the program and is in charge of deciding whether and when to enroll.

2. Assess whether E-Verify is required in your organization’s jurisdiction, or will likely become a requirement based on federal or state contracts (current or future).

3. Ascertain whether any worksite(s) outside of the state where your organization is headquartered is currently subject to, or will be subject to E-Verify enrollment.

4. Take Advantage of the E-Verify STEM extension option by determining whether any foreign national students working at your organization pursuant to F-1/OPT would benefit from a 17 month STEM extension which requires enrollment in E-Verify.

5. Analyze how voluntary enrollment could benefit and/or harm your company by providing an exhaustive list of cost/benefit. This requires a thoughtful approach by organizations where partnering with experienced immigration counsel and considering the utility and benefit of a well-developed electronic software system to assist with E-Verify case processing can lend the most benefit.

6. Anticipate how future E-Verify legislation may impact your organization by developing written policy, procedures, timeline, and roll-out plan to implement E-Verify for a future execution date when/if E-Verify becomes mandatory.

7. Audit internal I-9 records to identify and resolve existing and potential compliance problems in order to lay a sound foundation before enrolling in E-Verify.

8. Alert relevant stakeholders, such as Human Resources, in preparation for transition, and implementation of trainings in order to successfully roll-out an E-Verify plan for your organization.

9. Pay Attention to issues involving privacy and discrimination violations related to both I-9 and E-Verify implementation. Federal and state laws are increasingly evolving to provide additional protection for individuals so it is best to consult with experienced counsel on these matters.

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Ms. L. Batya Schwartz Ehrens is a U.S. based immigration attorney. She has represented companies and individuals seeking to secure nonimmigrant visas and permanent residence and has taught business immigration law as an adjunct professor at the City University of New York (CUNY). She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and is active on the Corporate Practice, Department of Labor, Advocacy, and Global Mobility committees. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. Ms. Schwartz Ehrens may be reached at batyaehrens@gmail.com.