By Thomas Ahearn, ESR Staff Writer

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced three new initiatives to strengthen the efficiency and accuracy of the E-Verify employment eligibility verification system, including a new agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) that will make it easier to investigate E-Verify misuse and discrimination by participating employers.

Under the DHS and Justice Department agreement, both agencies will share information about potential abuses of the E-Verify system that employers are supposed to use only once they have hired an employee and not as a screening tool.  To ensure that E-Verify is used fairly by employers, the initiative will streamline the adjudication process to take action against employers violating civil rights laws, while also protecting the individuals authorized to work in the U.S. from national origin or citizenship-status discrimination.

E-Verify — a free, Web-based system that enhances the paper-based I-9 form — is operated in partnership by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) and allows employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of newly-hired employees against information contained in government databases. More than 192,000 employers nationwide currently use E-Verify, and the system has processed more than six million queries since October of 2009.

While E-Verify participation is voluntary for most employers, the federal government requires its contractors to use the system and several states have passed laws requiring the use of E-Verify for state contractors and private employers. Those who wish to avoid potential cases of E-Verify misuse or discrimination need to maintain compliant with new DHS initiatives, which also include an informational telephone hotline for workers and new training videos focusing on E-Verify employee rights and employer responsibilities.

Because the I-9 form is an important part of a comprehensive safe hiring strategy, employers using E-Verify may choose a third-party provider to maintain compliance. Employment Screening Resources (ESR), an authorized E-Verify Designated Agent, can help employers virtually eliminate SSA mismatch letters, improve the accuracy of wage and tax reporting, protect jobs for authorized workers, and help maintain a legal workforce. For more information, please visit