The ‘Legal Workforce Act of 2011’ (H.R. 2164) recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would make use of the federal government’s E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system mandatory for all employers in the United States in order to help ensure that all newly hired employees are legally eligible to work in the country, according to a press release issued by the bill’s chief sponsor, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas).

“E-Verify is a successful program to help ensure that jobs are reserved for citizens and legal workers,” Chairman Smith stated in the press release. “It takes just a few minutes to use and easily confirms 99.5% percent of work-eligible employees.”

E-Verify – created in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996 – allows employers to electronically verify that newly-hired employees are legally authorized to work in the United States by checking Social Security numbers of new hires against Social Security Administration (SSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) records in order to eliminate fraudulent numbers and ensure that new hires are genuinely eligible to work.

Major components of The Legal Workforce Act of 2011 (H.R. 2164) include the following:

  • H.R. 2164 repeals the current paper-based I-9 system and replaces it with a completely electronic work eligibility check. 
  • H.R. 2164 phases-in mandatory E-Verify participation for new hires in six month increments beginning on the date of enactment.  Within six months of enactment, businesses having more than 10,000 employees are required to use E-Verify.  Within 12 months after enactment, businesses having 500 to 9,999 employees are required to use E-Verify.  Within 18 months after enactment, businesses having 20 to 499 employees must use E-Verify.  And within 24 months after enactment, businesses having 1 to 19 employees must use E-Verify. 
  • H.R. 2164 requires that employees performing “agricultural labor or services” are only subject to an E-Verify check within 36 months of the date of enactment.  Under the bill, an individual engaged in seasonal agricultural employment is not considered a new hire if the individual starts work with an employer for whom they have previously worked. 
  • H.R. 2164 preempts state laws mandating E-Verify use for employment eligibility purposes but retains the ability of states and localities to condition business licenses on the requirement that the employer use E-Verify in good faith under the federal law.  
  • H.R. 2164 grants employers safe harbor from prosecution if they use the E-Verify program in good faith, and through no fault of theirs, receive an incorrect eligibility confirmation.    

 According to statistics cited in the press release, over 250,000 American employers voluntarily use E-Verify and an average of 1,300 new businesses sign up each week.  In addition, a recent Rasmussen poll found Americans overwhelmingly support making E-Verify mandatory as 82 percent of likely voters think businesses should be required to use E-Verify. 

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) – the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management representing more than 250,000 members – issued a statement in support of The Legal Workforce Act of 2011 that thanked Chairman Smith for introducing the bill.

“On behalf of approximately 260,000 members of the Society for Human Resource Management, we thank you for introducing The Legal Workforce Act, which creates a fully integrated, federal, electronic employment verification system,” SHRM interim president and CEO Henry “Hank” Jackson said. “HR professionals are on the front lines of employment verification and are fully committed to only hiring work-authorized individuals.”

A copy of The Legal Workforce Act of 2011 (H.R. 2164) is available at:

The statement from SHRM is available at:

To learn more about E-Verify services from Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – a Designed E-Verify Employer Agent and a nationwide background screening provider accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) – please visit

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR): Founded in 1997 in the San Francisco area with a mission to help employers and employees maintain safe workplaces, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) and provides industry leading technology, legal compliance, service, turnaround, and accuracy. ESR also wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by founder and President Lester Rosen. For more information about ESR, visit