Many employers proudly display their E-Verify participation posters, and when asked if they perform criminal background checks on their employees, point to their poster and say, “yes, see we E-Verify.”

Unfortunately, E-Verify is not a criminal background check.

E-Verify is a free service that verifies the legal status employment eligibility of an individual, but does not check an individual’s criminal history. E-Verify can only be used after an offer of employment has been accepted by the individual applicant. However, it cannot be used later than the third business day after the individual has started to work, so basically the employer has three days after the date of hire to verify legal eligibility to work. E-Verify is offered through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. If performing a web search to find the real E-Verify website, search for the terms “E-Verify” and “Homeland Security” to avoid landing on the website of a commercial provider that will charge you for this free service.

The E-Verify online manual is very clear that this service cannot be used to pre-screen individuals for employment, i.e., E-Verify is not to be used for employee background checks. Rather, E-Verify, which is required by many states, as well as for federal contractors, is a Human Resources onboarding function, which again, must be performed no later than the third day of employment.

For employee background checks, seek out a reliable background screening company that is also a consumer reporting agency (CRA). A reputable CRA can help employers navigate the laws that regulate employee background checks.

Posted by: Rudy Troisi. President, Reliable Background Screening.