E-Verify is an internet-based system operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA).

E-Verify is currently free to employers and is available in all 50 states. It provides an automated link to existing federal databases to help employers determine the employment eligibility of new hires and the validity of their Social Security numbers. While its usage remains voluntary throughout the country, some states have passed legislation making its use mandatory for certain businesses.

Using E-Verify continues to have the highest impact on satisfaction (CSI) for both Existing Users and New Enrollees.

-- Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey for E-Verify, 2017

Ensuring compliance with immigration rules is not just in the hands of the federal and state governments. Local businesses can take action by using E-Verify to prevent the hiring of aliens who lack authorization to work in the United States. With ongoing structural unemployment and stagnant wages, the best thing any smart, practical, law-abiding, civic-minded and patriotic American businesses can do is to begin using E-Verify to ensure that all new hires are legal to work in the United States.

E-Verify Facts & Figures


Usage Statistics (as of June 2019)


  • 871,720 companies have enrolled in E-Verify
  • 2,892,154 hiring sites currently use E-Verify
  • 29,275,549 cases have been run through E-Verify during FY2019

Performance Statistics (FY2018)


E-Verify Performance

E-Verify User Survey Results (2017)


  • 85% of E-Verify users were satisfied with the system
  • 86% of new enrollees were satisfied
  • E-Verify scores well above the customer satisfaction average for all services provided by the federal government (70%)
  • 43% of users were prompted to use the photo matching tool over the last 6 months
  • 82% of users were satisfied with the tentative non-confirmation process

Current Legislation


Multiple pieces of legislation to require all employers to use E-Verify have been introduced in both the House and Senate during the 116th Congress.

Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act


The standard bearer, the Accountability Through Electronic Verification Act, has been introduced by Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), S. 556, and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), H.R. 1399. The legislation would:

  • Permanently reauthorize E-Verify;
  • Require all federal agencies and contractors to use E-Verify;
  • Require all employers to use E-Verify within 1 year;
  • Increase the minimum fine for employers not using E-Verify from $250 to $2500;
  • Allow for businesses who repeatedly fail to use E-Verify to be debarred;
  • Require all existing employees be run through E-Verify within 1 year;
  • Require that the Department of Homeland Security work with the Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, and Secretary of the Treasury to establish an information sharing program to detect identify fraud, including no-match letters.

Legal Workforce Act


The Legal Workforce Act, originally authored by former Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), has been introduced by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), H.R. 250. The legislation would:

  • Permanently reauthorize E-Verify;
  • Require all employers to use E-Verify within 2 years;
  • Increase the minimum fines for employers not using E-Verify, including initial fine from $250 to $2500;
  • Allow for businesses who repeatedly fail to use E-Verify to be debarred;
  • Allow for businesses to run all employees at a geographical location through E-Verify;
  • Require the Social Security Administration to notify employers annually of any Social Security numbers for employees that are used multiple times.

E-Verify History


1986

The history of E-Verify begins with Ronald Regan signing the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA). IRCA required employers to examine documentation from each newly hired employee to prove his or her identity and eligibility to work in the United States. This act leads to the creation of the common Form I-9 requiring employees to attest to their work eligibility, and employers to certify that the documents presented reasonably appear to be genuine and related to the individual.

1994

Following the passage of the Immigration Act of 1990, Congress forms the bipartisan Congressional Commission on Immigration Reform, chaired by the former Texas Congresswoman and civil rights icon Barbara Jordan, to examine the impacts of the legislation. In 1994, the commission releases its Executive Summary for Illegal Immigration, where it recommends the establishment of a "simpler, more fraud-resistant system for verifying work authorization" and "that the most promising option for secure, nondiscriminatory verification is a computerized registry using data provided by the Social Security Administration [SSA] and the INS."

1996

The next big step on the journey to E-Verify came as Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996. The bill was introduced by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) as a way to implement the bipartisan recommendations of the Jordan Commission. This legislation required the then-Immigration and Nationalization Service (now a part of the Department of Homeland Security) to conduct three distinct pilot programs: Basic Pilot, the Citizen Attestation Pilot, and the Machine-Readable Document Pilot. These programs were used to determine the best method of verifying an employee’s employment verification.

1997

The INS working with the Social Security Administration (SSA), implemented the Basic Pilot Program in California, Florida, Illinois, Nebraska, New York, and Texas, on a voluntary basis. The Basic Pilot Program used information from the employee's Form I-9 and compared it to the information in INS and SSA records. Once the SSA information was confirmed by phone, the employer entered I-9 data into a computer program which transmitted the data to INS via a modem connection.

2004

The Basic Pilot Program implemented a new Web-based access method to confirm employment eligibility. The new Web-based access method allowed users to access Basic Pilot through any Internet-capable computer. Other features of the Internet version include online enrollment, reporting capability for users, and availability of the web interface 23 hours a day.

2007

The Basic Pilot Program launches its photo-matching tool. Photo matching is the first step in incorporating biometric data into the web interface. Photo matching was developed for employees presenting a Permanent Resident Card or Employment Authorization Document and allows the employer to match the photo on an employee's document with the photo in USCIS records.

The Basic Pilot Program was renamed E-Verify. Along with the new name, the program added more features including an automatic flagging system that prompts employers to double-check the data entered into the web interface for those cases that are about to result in a mismatch. This change reduced data entry errors and initial mismatches by approximately 30 percent.

The Legal Arizona Workers Act, sometimes called the “Employer Sanctions Law,” went into effect in Arizona. This legislation prohibits businesses from knowingly or intentionally hiring an illegal alien after December 31, 2007. The law, the first of its kind in the state level, also requires employers in Arizona to use the “E-Verify” system to verify the employment authorization of all new employees hired after December 31, 2007.

2008

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) signed a MOA for the sharing of information between the two agencies. This agreement formalized the coordination and management of referrals between USCIS Verification Division and ICE regarding the misuse, abuse or fraudulent use of E-Verify.

Mississippi and South Carolina pass similar bills to the Legal Arizona Workers Act, mandating that all government and private employers check their new hires through E-Verify, or face the suspension or loss of their business license.

2011

E-Verify launched the Records and Information from DMVs for E-Verify (RIDE) program. Developed in conjunction with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, RIDE enabled states to validate the authenticity of driver’s licenses presented as Form I-9 (PDF, 535 KB) identity documents. Mississippi was the first state to make its driver’s license data available to E-Verify. The first states to sign up are as follows:

  • Mississippi, 2011
  • Florida joins RIDE, 2012
  • Idaho and Iowa join RIDE, 2013
  • Nebraska, North Dakota and Wisconsin join RIDE, 2015
  • E-Verify Self Check is launched, a voluntary, fast, free and simple service that allows individuals to check their employment eligibility in the United States, launched and expanded to residents of 21 states, available in both English and Spanish.

    Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting: 563 U.S. 582, is the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that upheld an Arizona state law suspending or revoking business licenses of businesses that do not use of E-Verify to prevent the hiring of illegal aliens. The case dealt with the question of whether the Legal Arizona Workers Act was invalid under federal statutes, in particular, the Immigration Reform and Control Act. On May 26, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled, in a 5-3 decision, that the Legal Arizona Workers Act was not preempted by federal legislation, allowing the continuation of the hiring standard.

    Alabama passes HB 56, another bill similar to the Legal Arizona Workers Act, mandating that all government and private employers check their new hires through E-Verify, or face the suspension or loss of their business license.

    2013

    E-Verify deployed a process to lock Social Security numbers (SSNs) suspected of fraudulent use within the system. This enhancement helps combat identity fraud by identifying and deterring fraudulent use of SSNs for employment eligibility verification. There is no change to the E-Verify process for employers as a result of this enhancement.

    2014

    USCIS launched myE-Verify, a suite of online services for employees who want to check their own work authorization through Self Check. This new feature manages other tasks related to E-Verify in five states: Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, Mississippi, Virginia and the District of Columbia.

    More than 500,000 employers were enrolled in E-Verify.

    2016

    E-Verify launched a new self-service feature that allows users to unlock their own user ID by answering the same security questions used to create their account. Users were encouraged to contact their program or corporate administrator, or 800-741-5023, for assistance.

    2017

    E-Verify added the ability for clients of E-Verify employer agents to sign their memorandum of understanding electronically. This new feature eliminates the need to sign MOUs by hand, which reduces the:

  • Time it takes for clients to become “active” in E-Verify; and
  • Number of enrollments the E-Verify system rejects.
  • Arizona, Maryland, and Wyoming joined the Records and Information from DMVs for E-Verify (RIDE) program. RIDE helps to reduce document and employment eligibility verification fraud in E-Verify. These states join the ones listed above, in this initiative.

    For a full and interactive timeline, please visit the E-Verify website.

    Notable Quotes


    "Employment continues to be the principal magnet attracting illegal aliens to this country. As long as U.S. businesses benefit from the hiring of unauthorized workers, control of unlawful immigration will be impossible."

    -- Barbara Jordan, Chair, U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, 1994

    "Mandate employer use of E-Verify and require the Social Security Administration to issue no-match letters....Prosecute employers who knowingly hire illegal workers (as opposed to merely inspecting their personnel files)."

    -- National Sheriffs Association, 2012

    "Anyone who claims to be fiercely opposed to illegal immigration but doesn't support strong employer sanctions is just lying to you."

    -- Kevin Drum Mother Jones, 2016

    "As long as employers remain off the hook, a border wall and an expanded dragnet can only make temporary dents in the flows of undocumented immigrants."

    -- New York Times editorial, 2017

    "If we do comprehensive immigration reform, what’s to prevent the spectacle of millions of undocumented immigrants clamoring for amnesty in another 20 years? The answer: E-Verify."

    -- Rosa Martha Villarreal, 2017

    "E-Verify has proved effective at keeping immigrants who are in the country illegally from taking American jobs. In Arizona, which pioneered the mandatory checks in 2008, the number of unauthorized workers dropped 33 percent below what was projected without the requirement, according to a 2017 analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas."

    -- Washington Post, 2018

    "I think E-Verify is a necessary tool because illegal employment is a magnet that pulls people into this country. So I think E-Verify should be mandated in this country across the board."

    -- Former Acting ICE Director Thomas Homan, 2018

    "Mandatory use of E-Verify by employers would help reduce the incidence of fraudulent use of [Social Security numbers]."

    -- Nancy Berryhill, former Social Security Commissioner under Obama, 2018

    "The vast majority of foreigners entering this country come for jobs. Turn off the jobs magnet for those without the proper papers and their numbers would shrink radically. That makes an E-Verify-type program the most serious means of curbing illegal immigration."

    -- Froma Harrop, January 10, 2019

    "[T]he system should be required in every state. E-Verify can help stop unscrupulous employers from exploiting immigrants who fear complaining about poor pay or working conditions will lead to their deportation. E-Verify puts the onus on employers to make sure their work force is legal or face penalties for not following the law."

    -- Houston Chronicle editorial, January 17, 2019

    "To ensure that people hired are legal residents of the United States, 80% favor the law requiring use of an E-Verify system during the hiring process. Twenty percent (20%) are opposed. Those figures include 45% who 'Strongly Favor' the law and 6% who are ‘Strongly Opposed'"

    -- Rasmussen, 2019

    Tags:  
    Illegal Immigration
    E-Verify