Federal contractors are required to participate in the online E-Verify program to confirm that employees are legally eligible to work in the US. The contractor must verify each employee who will work directly on a federal contract, even if the worker has been employed by the company for many years.
Q: Are federal contractors required to use E-Verify?
A: Yes. Use of the E-Verify system is optional for private employers in many states, but it is mandatory for federal contractors – at least for the employees who will be directly performing work under a federal contract. Even an employee who works on a project covered under a federal contract for just a few days or hours, must still pass an E-Verify check.
Q: What is the purpose of E-Verify?
A: The purpose of the E-Verify requirement is to ensure that every employee working directly on a federal contract has the legal right to work in the US. This process can detect forged identity or work authorization documents. It can also detect identity theft, when an employee is applying for a job using someone else’s name or Social Security number.
Q: Are federal subcontractors, divisions or affiliates required to use E-Verify?
In addition to federal contractors, federal subcontractors, divisions or affiliates of federal contractors and employer agents must also use E-Verify to authenticate every employee working directly under a federal contract.
Q: Which employees are exempt from E-Verify?
A: There are two major exemptions from E-Verify.
1. Employees who have been continuously employed (by the same company) since Nov. 6, 1986 are not subject to E-Verify confirmation, even when they are working directly under a federal contract.
2. Support personnel are not included in the E-Verify requirement, as long as they do not perform any “substantial duties” under the contract. Some federal contractors use the E-Verify system for every employee, simply to avoid confusion. If a federal contractor or subcontractor chooses, they may recertify every employee companywide during the E-Verify enrollment process.
Q: How long do we have to comply with E-Verify on a new federal contract?
A: Most new federal contractors have 90 to 180 days to confirm the employment eligibility status of current workers, based on the terms of their contract. The E-Verify system is managed by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a division of the department of Homeland Security.
Q: What are the E-Verify posting requirements?
A: All employers using E-Verify are required to display two labor law posters, the “Notice of E-Verify Participation” and “Right to Work” posters. Fortunately, these posters – as well as all the other required posters – are included in the Federal Contractor poster.
Q: How do we get started with E-Verify?
A: Using E-Verify is simple. The employer simply enters the information from the worker’s I-9 form into the online system. Within 3 to 5 seconds, the employer receives a message that the worker’s info matches federal records – or that there is a mismatch between the I-9 and federal records.
Q: How does E-Verify work?
A: E-Verify essentially extends the I-9 process one step further with independent confirmation. This tool uses government records to verify both an employee’s identity, and his or her right to legally work in the US. It draws on information from the Social Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department.
Q: What are our E-Verify options if we are new to federal contracts?
A: For existing employees, the new federal contractor has two options. They can simply enter the info from each employee’s old I-9 – the one they completed when they were hired – into the E-Verify system. Alternatively, an employer may require that every employee fill out a new I-9 form (but the original I-9 should still be retained on file, along with the new form.) Information can be imported directly into E-Verify from an HR database, but only if the original data came from an I-9 form.
Q: What if an employee’s I-9 info does not match the E-Verify records?
A: If there is a mismatch between the federal records and the info on the I-9, the employer will receive an electronic TNC, a notice of Temporary Nonconfirmation. When an employer receives a TNC on an employee, he or she will also receive a Further Action Notice. The employer should promptly and privately review the Further Action Notice with the worker.
Q: What causes an E-Verify mismatch?
A: In many cases, a TNC (Temporary Nonconfirmation notice) is issued because the employer has unknowingly hired an undocumented worker. In other cases, there is another explanation for the TNC, such as a clerical error, use of a nickname on the I-9 or not reporting a name change to the Social Security Administration after marriage or divorce.
Q: What are the employee’s options when they receive a mismatch?
A: When an employee receives a TNC (Temporary Nonconfirmation notice), they have the option to contest the results or not contest them. If the results are uncontested, the employee is essentially admitting that he or she does not have the legal right to work in the US. Most employers will immediately terminate the employee. However, the employer is still legally required to pay the employee for all time worked including training.
Q: How should we handle a contested mismatch?
A: If the employee contests the TNC, the employer will enter that information into the online E-Verify system. The employee will be given a specific time frame to resolve the issue. Often, resolution will require the employee to pay a visit to the closest Social Security office or other agency within 8 business days. It is unlawful for an employer to take negative action against an employee before the deadline (including suspension, termination, a change in hours or withholding pay) simply because the employee chooses to contest the TNC.
Q: How will we know if the mismatch has been resolved?
A: Once a final determination is made by E-Verify, the employer is informed electronically about the worker’s employment eligibility status.
Q: Where can we find additional E-Verify resources?
A: Employers can enroll in E-Verify online, or view an E-Verify Webinar or E-Verify Video. Employees can use the handy E-Verify Self-Check feature to ensure that their information is correct, before they are hired. They can confirm their identity or follow their open case at My E-Verify.