The state of Minnesota is once again requiring its big contractors to verify the legal right of their employees to work in the United States by using the E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system that checks information from new hires against federal databases of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA). Tim Pawlenty first mandated E-Verify for large government contractors through an executive order in 2008. At that time, he also ordered the state to run its own new hires through E-Verify.
After the previous E-Verify requirement was dropped in April 2011, mandatory use of E-Verify returned as a provision to the state’s final budget deal in June 2011. However, unlike the previous E-Verify law that required state agencies to use E-Verify on all new hires, this new mandate does not extend to new state employees.
The new E-Verify requirement, which is already in effect, may catch some employers in Minnesota by surprise. More than 4,000 employers in Minnesota have used the E-Verify system, and federal officials say use is growing. A spokesman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States – said 98.3 percent of the people whose names are run through E-Verify are immediately confirmed as eligible to work. Of the 1.7 percent of workers determined ineligible, 0.3 percent are later confirmed as authorized to work. Companies providing more than $50,000 worth of services to the state must enroll in E-Verify to check the work status of new hires.
The bringing back of E-Verify law is a sign of growing use of E-Verify across the country and states are increasingly passing immigration bills in the light of burgeoning unemployment numbers. However there is a lack of consistency across states in E-Verify implementation and this can be confusing for employers especially for those operating in multiple worksite locations.