E-Verify: A Guide For Startup Employers and Employees
If you’re an employer, enrolling in the E-Verify process is not difficult, and it will allow you to hire top talent.
If you’re an employer, enrolling in the E-Verify process is not difficult, and it will allow you to hire top talent coming out of U.S. Universities regardless of U.S. citizenship.
If you’re a student on an F-1 visa and you want to work at a startup post-grad, you have to secure your OPT status and get a job offer from an employer that uses E-Verify.
E-Verify for Startups
Startups looking to hire recent grads on STEM OPT on a student visa.
If your startup wants to hire the best talent coming out of top universities regardless of U.S. citizenship, you will have to become an E-Verify employer. E-verify is an online system provided by the federal government that confirms an applicant’s ability to work legally in the U.S. You enter the employee’s I-9 form, and it checks their authorization status instantly and at no cost.
This will allow your startup to recruit the best talent coming out of U.S. Universities. Recent graduates with non-STEM degrees can work for 12 months and recent graduates with STEM degrees can work for a total of 36 months. Three years is a long time in startup life, and by the time the three year period is up, your startup might be in a place to sponsor H-1B visas. You also get multiple chances in the H-1B lottery during the 3-year period for STEM grads.
You can enroll online, and the process is pretty low lift.
The enrollment process involves answering basic questions about your company, reading an MOU, signing off on the terms, and printing.
After you receive a login from USCIS, you have to go through the tutorials and pass a “mastery” test.
You can then use your employee’s 1–9 form to create the E-Verify case online. The results are instant.
If you are using E-Verify to hire employees, your enrollment process could take between a few hours and a few weeks. The online enrollment should only take a few minutes, but it could take anywhere between 15 minutes and 3 weeks to receive a login from USCIS. You also have to pass a “mastery test” after studying the tutorials, which could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.
You must create the E-Verify case at the latest 3 days after the employee starts the job.
E-Verify for International Students
Students on F-1 visas who will be graduating and would like to work in the U.S. after graduation.
All students can apply for OPT for 12 months, and students with a STEM degree can get an additional 24 months with a STEM extension for 3 years total. An employer has to be E-Verified to hire students on OPT.
Post-completion OPT: (get this first, then apply for an extension later on)
Hard Deadline: “You must apply within 30 days of your DSO entering the recommendation for OPT into your SEVIS record” (USCIS 2019)
Earliest: 90 days before you complete your degree
Latest: 60 days after you complete your degree
STEM OPT extension:
Hard Deadline: “Must apply within 60 days of your DSO entering the recommendation for OPT into your SEVIS record” (USCIS 2019)
Earliest: 90 days before your current OPT employment authorization expires
Latest: You must apply before your current OPT status expires. It doesn’t have to be approved before the expiration date, but the application must be submitted.
Check if your degree counts as STEM here.
Apply for post-completion OPT (Read about how here).
Find an employer that uses E-Verify.
Once you are employed by a company using E-Verify, you can apply for a STEM OPT extension up to 90 days before your current OPT expires if you have a STEM degree.
Thank you to Todd Heine for confirming the accuracy of this post. Todd is the CEO and co-founder of LegalPad, a startup that specializes in work visas for startups.
This information is up to date as of October 2019 and is subject to change based on current U.S. immigration laws. Please note that this article is not a substitute for legal advice.