E-Verify: Why It Is Important For Family Employers

ITwo business executives in Florida recently pled guilty in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia to charges related to their roles in an immigration fraud scheme.

The executives allegedly schemed to enrich themselves by recruiting and hiring foreign nationals who were not authorized to work in the United States to fill temporary housekeeping and food service positions.

The scheme involved a visa processing company based in North Point, Georgia. The two defendants also lived in Georgia and were indicted by a Georgia federal grand jury. The 36-count indictment also contained allegations against a Louisiana-based staffing company and seven current and former employees of that company.

All of the accused were each charged with harboring an alien, transporting an alien, visa fraud, and conspiracy to defraud and commit offenses against the United States, including encouraging and inducing an alien to reside in the United States. The executives were also charged with wire fraud-related offenses.

The executives, who are ages 73 and 71, face a maximum sentence of five years in prison. "Two Executives Plead Guilty to Large-Scale Visa Fraud Employment Scheme" www.justice.gov (Oct. 07, 2021).

Commentary and Checklist

Family employers should work with legal counsel to make sure all staff members are eligible to work in the United States.

It is illegal for any employer, including family employers, to knowingly hire workers who are not authorized to work in the United States. Every applicant must complete a Form I-9 and provide the required documentation establishing both identity and employment authorization to be eligible to work in the United States.

The Immigration and Nationality Act specifies that employers who knowingly employ someone who is not authorized could be fined thousands of dollars for each worker. Employing, recruiting, or referring multiple illegal immigrants could lead to criminal fines and incarceration.

The federal government provides an online screening tool – the E-Verify system - that compares employee information on the I-9 form to Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data. According to the DHS, E-Verify is the best way for employers to verify the employment eligibility of new hires. Many states have legislation that requires either all or certain employers to use E-Verify for all new hires.

To learn more about how to use E-Verify, visit www.uscis.gov/E-Verify.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services provides this list of guidelines for employers to remember when using E-Verify:

  • Post the required notice, informing staff of their use of E-Verify.
  • E-Verify must be used for new hires only. It cannot be used to verify employment eligibility of current staff.
  • If used, E-Verify must be used for all new hires regardless of national origin or citizenship status and cannot be used selectively.
  • Do not use E-Verify to pre-screen applicants; rather, use the system after hiring and completion of a Form I-9.
  • If a worker receives an information mismatch from the Form I-9 and SSA and DHS databases, promptly provide them with information about how to challenge the information mismatch, including a written notice generated by E-Verify.
  • If an individual decides to challenge the information mismatch, you must provide the person with a referral letter issued by E-Verify that contains specific instructions and contact information.
  • Do not take any adverse action against a staff member for contesting the information mismatch. This includes firing, suspending, withholding pay or training, or otherwise infringing upon their employment.
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