Starting this month, employers that do business with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania must use the the federal government's E-Verify system to check whether their new hires are legally eligible to work in the U.S.

 

Attorney Valentine Brown, of Duane Morris LLP, says the new law could apply to a significant number of new employers.

"They need to really make sure they understand the process and what the different answers that come from the system mean," said Brown.

A query to E-Verify gets answered in seconds, but if there is any complication, things can get bogged down. Green Card holders, for example, often take longer for the system to process even though they can work legally.

Employers have to wait for a final response before they take any action. Brown says these administrative burdens are where costs creep in for businesses and that a recent study on Arizona, the first state to pass an E-Verify requirement, found it hurt the business climate.

Wendy Sefsaf, Director of Communications at the American Immigration Council says the economy relies on millions of people who can't pass E-Verify.

"We're preventing employers from being able to have the workforce they need whether that's to build houses or to pick fruit or whatever that we've really kind of gotten off balance," said Sefsaf.

She argues the national conversation over immigration reform expected to restart this month in Washington must focus on what to do to get the 11 million illegal immigrants in the country on the books.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story was not clear that the E-Verify check is an additional step in a legal employment eligibility requirement that was already in effect.