After delaying for three times a regulation requiring all federal contractors to use E-Verify – a government-run electronic employment eligibility verification system – the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano recently announced that the rule will finally go into effect on September 8, 2009.

Starting on that date, federal contractors and subcontractors will have to use the government’s E-Verify system to ensure that all employees who work on federal projects are legal. E-Verify – which compares information from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) with federal government databases to verify employment eligibility – is a free web-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA).

In addition, the federal contractor rule extends use of the E-Verify system to covered federal contractors and subcontractors, including those who receive American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. After a careful review, the Administration will begin full implementation of the rule, which will apply to federal solicitations and contract awards Government-wide starting on September 8, 2009.

According to the DHS, an average of one thousand employers sign up for E-Verify each week, with more than 134,000 employers now representing more than half a million locations nationwide. Recent statistics from Westat, an independent research firm, found that almost 97 percent of all queries run through E-Verify are automatically confirmed work-authorized within 24 hours.

Figures recently released by the DHS also indicate that E-Verify is now being used to determine work eligibility for one out of every four new hires nationwide, even though the E-Verify program remains largely voluntary and only 12 states require its use in some manner by employers.

In addition to expanding participation, DHS continues to enhance E-Verify in order to guard against errors, enforce compliance, promote proper usage, and enhance security. Recent E-Verify advancements include new processes to reduce typographical errors and new features to reduce initial mismatches.

The DHS also intends to rescind the “No-Match Rule” – which employers could follow if they received notices questioning work eligibility information provided by employees – in favor of the more modern E-Verify system which addresses data inaccuracies in a more timely manner and provides a more robust tool for identifying unauthorized individuals and combating illegal employment.

A designated E-Verify service agent, I-9Compliance.com – offered by leading background check and HR outsourcing provider Pre-Employ.com – helps employers maintain full compliance, reduce risks and liability, virtually eliminate errors, and improve the economy by ensuring jobs for legal workers. To learn how to get I-9Compliance.com for FREE, visit www.i-9compliance.com/FREE/. To attend a FREE webinar, register at “E-Verify & Federal Contractors: Know The Facts.” For more information, download our complimentary white paper “15 Facts You Should Know About I-9 Compliance,” read 20 Questions (& Answers) For The E-Verify Federal Contractor Rule, visit www.i-9compliance.com, email sales@i-9compliance.com, or call 1-800-300-1821.

USCIS Update: Federal Contractors Required to Use E-Verify Beginning September 8, 2009

tahearn@i-9compliance.com