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What is E-Verify?

interstride logo by Interstride
April 13, 2023

E-verify is an online system used by employers in the United States to determine if newly hired employees (both citizens and non-citizens) are eligible to work in the US. The E-verify system uses the employee’s Employment Eligibility Verification form (Form I-9), as well as information from the Social Security Administration and the US Department of Homeland Security, to confirm eligibility for employment.

As an international student, having a work authorization like CPT and OPT does not automatically mean you can work for any company in the US. Your eligibility status will determine whether you’re allowed to work at the company or not.

Why is E-Verify important for international students?

For most international students who want to work in the United States, E-Verify is a requirement. Check the table below to see if your company needs to be enrolled in E-Verify based on the type of work authorization you have:

CPT No. The CPT program does not require employers to be enrolled in E-Verify. The E-Verify system is not connected to the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), which houses the records of international students, including CPT authorizations. Employers who are enrolled in E-Verify may use the system for CPT employees, but secondary verification is often required for these employees. Students on CPT, as well as their employers, should allot extra time for verification completion.
OPT No. When you are on OPT, you are not required to work for an employer that is enrolled in E-Verify. If you intend to stay employed at the same company or when you transition to STEM OPT, the company’s E-Verify status will then become a factor. At that time, you’ll have to transition to a company that has E-Verify status or make a case to your current employer to enroll in E-Verify.
STEM OPT Yes. F-1 students who wish to participate in the STEM OPT extension must do so with an employer enrolled in the E-Verify program. Your employer must submit your work authorization documents and personal information to the E-Verify system. It’s recommended that international graduates who qualify for the STEM OPT extension and their employers allow additional time for the E-Verify process before the current work authorization expires.
H-1BNo. A company’s E-Verify enrollment status will not impact whether or not an H-1B application is approved. Companies are not required to be E-Verify enrolled in order to file an H-1B petition.

If the company you are interested in is not E-Verified, you can try to negotiate with the company to enroll in E-Verify as part of your job offer. This is important if you are an OPT student planning to continue with STEM OPT, as it would allow you to continue working for the same company.

How to know if a company is E-Verify enrolled

Using the government’s E-Verify search tool, you can search for participating E-Verify employers. Nearly 1 million companies in the US are enrolled in the E-Verify system. The data in the system is self-reported by employers. Therefore, its accuracy depends on what the employer submitted at the time they enrolled, in addition to any information provided since then.

TIP: Note that the legal business name, and the public-facing business name, might not always be the same. Therefore the search tool might not recognize the public-facing name you enter. You may want to do some digging on the company’s website to find out if their legal business name differs.

What are the different E-Verify case results?

After accepting an offer of employment and completing a Form I-9, your employer will take your information and enter it into the E-Verify system. In under 5 seconds, the E-Verify system will compare your information to records available through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA) and generate a case result.

In some cases, the system may issue a tentative nonconfirmation case result (TNC). Most often, a TNC is issued when information that your employer entered from your Form I-9 does not match the government’s records. A TNC does not mean you are not authorized to work in the US but simply that your case requires additional action. Remember that as an international student, you have rights during the TNC process. You have the right to contest the TNS, as well as the right not to incur adverse actions because of the TNC. You can always call the E-Verify Employee Hotline at 1-888-897-7781 with case-specific questions or refer to the USCIS Employee Rights Toolkit.

E-Verify Case Results
Employment AuthorizedYour information matched records available through the DHS and SSA.
E-Verify Needs More TimeYour case has been referred to DHS for additional verification.
Tentative Nonconfirmation (Mismatch)Your information did not match SSA or DHS records, and additional action is required.
Case in ContinuanceYour case requires more time to determine a result, but you have been in contact with SSA or DHS.
Close Case and ResubmitYou are required by DHS and/or SSA to close the current case and create a new one.
Final NonconfirmationE-Verify can’t confirm your employment eligibility.
TIP: To avoid a mismatch case result (TNC), ensure your documents are up-to-date before completing your Form I-9. If you have changed your name, make sure to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA). If one of your documents has a spelling error or your date of birth is wrong, contact the agency that issued that document. You can verify that your information and documents are correct using the myE-Verify tool!

Final thoughts

E-Verify is a helpful tool for employers to determine the eligibility of employees to work in the US. Remember that work authorizations like OPT, STEM OPT, and CPT do not guarantee your eligibility to work for all companies in the US. International students and graduates should consult the myE-Verify tool or the E-Verify Employee Hotline, as these tools can help eliminate hurdles and ensure an “Employment Authorized” case result.