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Beyond E-Verify: Immigration Software Aids in Compliance Protection
I-9 Software: Overview of I-9 software tools that can make it easier to comply with federal immigration and employee verification procedures.
By Elizabeth Grey Morrison
Date Posted: 8/1/2008
Keeping up with immigration and work authorization information can seem like a paperwork nightmare, but several software companies have come to the rescue. These programs offer verification and management functionality not available in the free E-Verify system offered by the federal government. In most cases, these software solutions integrate directly with E-Verify, the Web-based work authorization verification software that uses data from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Developing employee verification procedures and using compliance software are two ways to help shield your company from liability associated with unknowingly hiring illegal aliens. Given the high number of employees with foreign backgrounds that now work in the pallet and lumber industries, you could be at risk of violating immigration laws unless you verify the work status of new hires.
Additionally, President Bush recently signed an executive order requiring all federal contractors to use the E-Verify system. This directly impacts any pallet or lumber company that supplies the military, General Services Administration or other government agencies.
E-Verify uses information from the federal I-9 form that all new hires are required to file with employers. These forms can be complex because of the many different types of identification and work authorization categories. The I-9 compliance software can eliminate confusion and simplify the process. A list of leading software products is available in the sidebar on page 43.
Major benefits of I-9 software include:
• Assistance in properly completing I-9s.
• Error alerts when data is incorrectly entered.
• Sample documents aid in identifying fake documents.
• Eliminates the need for paper records, even allowing for electronic document signature.
• Assists third-party firms in auditing your I-9 records.
• Integration with other human resource and payroll software.
• Electronically tracks expiration dates and notifies the HR department of employees where action is required.
• Prohibits use of duplicate information within a company.
• Seamless interface with E-Verify.
These benefits help to reduce time needed to process I-9s while providing the peace of mind and management needed to keep your company from violating immigration regulations. Searches are based on the 444 million records in the SSA database and more than 60 million records in the DHS immigration databases.
E-Verify is the basis for all these programs although the government database itself is far from perfect. E-Verify does not verify the authenticity of a person’s identity for employment purposes; it only checks the identity against matching information in the Social Security and DHS databases. Furthermore, there is evidence that some employers’ application of E-Verify may actually encourage identity theft by prospective employees who want to ensure that their information runs though the system without a problem.
E-Verify is not failsafe because it relies on Social Security data, which has a 4.1% error rate. If all employers in the country were to use this system, as many as six million U.S. citizens and legal residents could be denied employment because of bureaucratic error. In addition, the error rate for legal foreign-born workers is estimated to be nearly 10%. This could lead to discrimination lawsuits unless employers follow established procedures that apply to all employees.
Due to these problems, some are leery of using E-Verify. In 2007, for example, Illinois passed a law prohibiting employers from using E-Verify. DHS countered by asking a court to declare the Illinois law illegal. The law was scheduled to take effect this year, but Illinois agreed not to enforce it until the lawsuit is resolved.
Despite E-Verify’s potential glitches, John M. Hermann, chief executive officer of Form I-9 Compliance, said that those working with I-9 compliance generally are in favor of the system because it is the best solution available.
Many state legislatures mirror this view and have passed laws in favor of E-Verify. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano signed the Fair and Legal Employment Act, which requires employers to use E-Verify to show that employees are legally authorized to work. The bill also includes the most aggressive penalty currently in the U.S. against employers who intentionally or knowingly hire unauthorized immigrants. Offenders could face what is known as the “business death penalty,” a permanent revocation of the employer’s license to do business in the state.
As companies look to manage compliance and prevent unwanted legal troubles, I-9 software may be just what your operation needs to set your mind at ease.
Form I-9 Compliance
Solution/Service: Form I-9 Compliance enables a company to quickly identify current employees with no-match Social Security numbers through the SSA’s Social Security Number Verification Service.
Cost: Depends on utilization. The software can be purchased on a transactional or subscription basis, depending on the needs of the particular company. It is priced about 10-15% higher than competitors.
Selling Point: “Where the value is driven by our software, it is two to three times faster to work through our system than to try to do it by a semi-automated basis by going directly to the DHS,” said John M. Hermann, chief executive officer. Represents both small and large pallet companies, all of whom are now virtually 100% compliant.
Web site: http://www.formi9.com.
Form I-9 Solution
Solution/ Service: I-9 Solution provided by Lookout Services and is a Web-based solution that guides the employer through the I-9 format while providing tips to complete the form.
Cost: Depends on utilization and size of the company.
Selling Point: Instruction on how to use the software is included in the program’s costs, and additional, refresher courses are provided periodically for free. Training is provided on the Web. Customers are given a specific site to view while its mechanics are explained via a conference call.
Solution/Service: Tracker I-9 software enables employees to electronically prepare, sign, and store the I-9 employment eligibility verification form. The system’s features include e-mail alerting, audit, and reporting capabilities intended to improve corporate oversight of workforce compliance.
Cost: Includes an annual fee, set-up fee and per-record fee for customers.
Selling Point: Geared for human resource professionals familiar with I-9 forms rather than average users.
Web site: http://www.trackeri9.com.