Starting Sept. 8, federal contractors and subcontractors must begin using the government's E-Verify system to confirm their employees’ eligibility to work in the United States.
In July, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that the government would award federal contracts only to employers who use E-Verify to check employee work authorization. The rule was originally proposed in 2008 by the Bush administration, but a series of lawsuits sought to block implementation.
In late August, a federal district court rejected business groups’ challenge of the rule. They contended the Department of Homeland Security did not have the authority to impose such a requirement.
Under the rule, federal contractors must use the program to verify that everyone hired during a contract term and everyone performing work in the United States on a government contract is eligible to be employed. That means incumbent employees must go through the E-Verify process, just as new hires must.
The requirement to use E-Verify could affect as many as 200,000 employers.
E-Verify is an Internet-based system operated by the DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration. It allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.
Seven states currently require all employers to use the E-Verify system.
Just over 69,000 employers currently use E-Verify to determine that their new hires are authorized to work in the United States. DHS says employers have run millions of employment verification checks since 2007.
Of those queries, E-Verify automatically cleared 99.5% of qualified employees, according to a DHS statement.
E-Verify flags the remaining half percent for further checking by employers and the Social Security Administration. Many of those employees are eligible to work; simple clerical errors explain some mismatches that are easy to correct. DHS assumes that remaining workers whose eligibility can’t be established are in the country illegally.
More information on E-Verify, including how it works and how employers can register to use it, is available online.