E-Verify vs. I-9: What’s the Difference?

E-verify versus I-9 Form

E-verify versus I-9 Form

Employers likely heard Form I-9 and E-Verify mentioned almost interchangeably. In most cases, this back-and-forth happens when discussing the employment eligibility verification process. However, this interchangeable use often confuses anyone new to the hiring process. Many new professionals wonder which to complete or if they need both.

Professionals must understand that E-Verify and Form I-9 do not mean the same thing; they merely serve similar purposes. This article will examine the differences between Form I-9 and E-Verify and explore what each accomplishes.


The I-9 form and E-Verify are both tools used by employers to verify an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States, but there are some key differences between the two:

  1. Purpose: The I-9 form is a document that is used to verify an employee’s identity and work authorization, while E-Verify is an online system that compares information from the employee’s Form I-9 to government databases to confirm eligibility to work.
  2. Mandatory vs. Voluntary: The I-9 form is mandatory for all employers in the United States to complete for each employee they hire, regardless of the company’s size or the employee’s citizenship status. On the other hand, E-Verify is voluntary for most employers, but it is mandatory for federal contractors and some employers in certain states.
  3. Timing: The I-9 form must be completed within three days of the employee’s start date, while E-Verify is typically completed after the employee has been hired and the I-9 form has been completed.
  4. Errors: Errors on the I-9 form can lead to fines and penalties for the employer, while errors on E-Verify can lead to further investigation and potential legal issues for both the employer and employee.

Overall, the I-9 form and E-Verify are both important tools for employers to ensure compliance with federal immigration laws and verify their employees’ eligibility to work in the United States. However, it is important for employers to understand the differences between the two and to use them appropriately to avoid potential legal issues.

The Form I-9

Employers use employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) to verify newly hired individuals’ identities and employment authorizations. According to the law, employers must complete this form within three days of hiring any new employee. This process necessitates the involvement of both the employer and the employee.

Employees must provide documentation confirming their identity and employment authorization. Employers must then review the documents, ensuring genuineness and relation to the employee. The final page of Form I-9 lists the acceptable types of documents for verifying an employee’s identity and work authorization.


E-Verify is a web-based system created by the federal government. It allows employers to easily and quickly verify the employment eligibility of their new hires. However, federal law does not require most employers to use E-Verify.

The process requires employers to take the information provided in the Form I-9 and process and enter it into the E-Verify web portal to compare with federal databases. The program typically responds within seconds. It will either confirm the employees’ employment eligibility or request further action before it can adequately verify eligibility.

What Does This Mean for Your Business?

Unlike E-Verify, federal law mandates that all employers complete Form I-9. As such, compliance is crucial for preventing severe fines and regulatory action. Though optional, E-Verify often proves a solid addition to any employer’s verification process, regularly helping employers comply with regulations.

E-Verify helps assure employers of their employees’ work authorizations. It also adds a presumption of good faith should E-Verify reveal that an employee lacks authorization. When used correctly, it is an efficient process that typically requires little additional effort to incorporate.

To maintain compliance with federal immigration laws, companies need to ensure that every employee’s Form I-9 is filled out uniformly, whether they use E-Verify or not. An effective solution is to use an electronic I-9 management system that integrates with E-Verify, providing consistent guidance and ensuring compliance with each verification. This tool offers a streamlined process for verifying employee work eligibility and helps companies avoid potential legal issues.

Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

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