What is an H-1B Visa?
The H-1B visa program enables American companies to hire foreign workers in specialized fields such as engineering and mathematics on a temporary basis. To qualify for this visa, applicants must meet certain requirements.
First and foremost, the applicant must possess a bachelor's degree or higher in the specific field for which they seek employment within the United States. In some cases, relevant work experience can be considered equivalent to a degree. This visa program aims to help US companies attract global talent when there is a shortage of qualified personnel domestically.
Another requirement for obtaining an H-1B visa is to secure a job offer from a US employer who will sponsor the visa application. The sponsor company must provide documentation supporting that the job offered demands specialized knowledge specific to the applicant's education and expertise and that no US worker was available for the job position. They must also demonstrate that they will pay the applicant a prevailing wage - an average wage paid to similarly qualified employees within the given industry and region.
Finally, there is an annual cap on the number of H-1B visas issued, which currently stands at 85,000, including 20,000 reserved for individuals with US master's degrees or higher. The H-1B visa process involves obtaining a Labor Condition Application from the Department of Labor and filing a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
What is E-Verify?
E-Verify is an internet-based system that electronically confirms a potential employee's eligibility to work in the United States. It is mainly used by US employers hiring foreign nationals under the H-1B visa category. The program cross-references information submitted by employers with records maintained by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The primary objective of E-Verify is to ensure that individuals who hold the H-1B non-immigrant visa have legal authorization to work in the country, thereby protecting American jobs and safeguarding national security.
To participate in E-Verify, employers must register with the program and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that outlines their responsibilities. Once enrolled, employers must verify the work eligibility of all new hires within three days of employment through E-Verify. The process involves submitting Form I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification data such as name, date of birth, Social Security number, and attested citizenship or immigrant status along with supporting documents such as passport or Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Within seconds, E-Verify checks these details against government databases to determine if an employee is authorized to work in the United States. The system either confirms work eligibility or alerts the employer with a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC) if inconsistencies are found.
While E-Verify has successfully identified unauthorized workers and maintained compliance for many organizations, it is not without its share of criticism. Some critics argue that it can lead to discrimination against legal foreign workers who might face extra scrutiny during their hiring process or experience delays due to database errors or discrepancies.
However, E-Verify continues to be an essential tool in upholding immigration laws while ensuring the security and integrity of America's workforce, particularly concerning H-1B non-immigrant visa holders. Participation in the program varies across states and industries. While it is mandatory for certain federal contractors, other employers voluntarily participate in E-Verify to comply with federal regulations and maintain a legal workforce.
E-Verify NextGen Coming Soon
E-Verify NextGen is a cutting-edge technology solution that aims to streamline and enhance the verification process of H-1B visa applicants for employment in the United States. It serves as an advanced version of the traditional E-Verify system. E-Verify NextGen utilizes an employee-facing portal to submit the required Form 1-9, verifying their identity and employment eligibility.
Employees directly input their personal information and documentation rather than the employers inputting the data. This change is meant to reduce data entry errors that potentially hold up the verification of an applicant’s visa.
If the employee’s information submitted on the portal can’t be immediately verified, the employee is notified directly. This eliminates the need for the employers to receive a “Further Action Needed” notice that they previously had to relay to the employee.
The primary purpose of E-Verify NextGen is to simplify the complex and time-consuming verification process of H-1B visa applicants. The NextGen system isn’t completely replacing the standard E-Verify system. Employers will be able to choose either option when verifying a new employee.
However, USCIS has recently moved to eliminate all E-Verify records over ten years old. Employers now have until June 23, 2023, to download relevant case-related data from previous H-1B visa cases. The files can be downloaded from the E-Verify portal.
E-Verify is likely to play an important role in the future of immigration in the US. If you are required to use E-Verify, it is important to understand the process and how to properly complete the required forms.
Our professionals at Visa2US will provide you with the information you need to navigate the complexities of E-Verify with confidence. Our specialists can help employers ensure that their workers are authorized to work in the US and can help you avoid legal penalties and fines.