Beginning Sept. 8, 2009, federal contractors and subcontractors will be required to use the E-Verify system to ensure their employees are legally authorized to work in the United States.The requirement is designed to stop federal contractors and subcontractors from hiring illegal immigrants.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano announced this week that the Obama administration will require employers that are awarded federal contracts to use E-Verify. The requirement for federal contractors to use E-Verify was originally set to go into place in January 2009, but was postponed so that the new administration could review the new rule.
The E-Verify system is a federal government online database program that allows employers to verify employment eligibility by electronically comparing employee information taken from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9) against the records in the DHS and Social Security Administration (SSA) databases. The system, which facilitates compliance with federal immigration laws and is currently voluntary for employers, is jointly operated by the DHS and the SSA and is overseen by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Although the Bush administration attempted to make E-Verify mandatory for federal contractors and subcontractors during its final months, the start date for them to begin using E-Verify has been delayed multiple times. When President Barack Obama took office, he ordered additional review of the system. After six months, the Obama administration and the DHS have decided to push ahead with the expansion of E-Verify.
While announcing the Obama administration’s support of requiring federal contractors and subcontractors to use E-Verify, Napolitano also revealed the department’s intention to rescind the “no-match” rule, another Bush administration proposition. The rule was blocked by a court order shortly after it was issued and has never taken effect. It would have sent Social Security “no-match” letters to employers informing them that an employee’s name and Social Security number does not match SSA records. Under the rule, after an employer received a “no-match” letter, it would either have to fire questionable employees or settle inconsistencies within 90 days to avoid criminal penalties.
The E-Verify program continues to face opposition from immigrant advocacy groups and business groups that assert the databases used by the E-Verify system are full of errors. While business groups, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, approved of the decision to scratch the “no-match” rule, they stated that they would continue their legal fight to prevent the E-Verify program from becoming mandatory for federal contractors and subcontractors.
According to Napolitano, the Obama administration will push ahead with “full implementation” of the federal contractor E-Verify rule, which will apply to federal solicitations and contract awards starting on September 8, 2009. After the rule takes effect, employers that are awarded federal contracts that include the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause will have to verify the employment eligibility of all their employees (including current workers) through E-Verify. However, federal contractors may not use E-Verify to verify current employees until the rule becomes effective and they are awarded a contract that includes the FAR E-Verify Clause.
For more information on the new E-Verify requirements for federal contractors, participate in the audio conference E-Verify September 8 Deadline: New Rules for Federal Contractors and Subcontractors