On Friday, January 25th, 2019, President Trump officially signed a bill reopening the government until February 15, 2019. Even though E-Verify has been completely offline since December 22, 2018, it has officially resumed most operations. This temporary lapse did not free employers from their usual I-9 responsibilities, meaning that they have before February 15th to open all required E-Verify cases of new hires from December 22, 2018, to January 25th, 2019.
Best Practices for E-Verify Following the Shutdown
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provided instructions regarding the reinstatement of the E-Verify system:
According to USCIS, employers have until February 11, 2019, to create an E-Verify case for each employee hired while E-Verify was not accessible. When creating the new E-Verify case, employers must use the hire date from the employee’s Form I-9. In most instances, the case creation date will be more than three days following the employee’s first date worked. If this is the case, the employer should select “other” from the drop-down list and enter “E-Verify Not Available” as the specific reason for the late case opening.
If an employee received a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC) and notified the employer of his or her intention to contest it by February 11, 2019, employers need to revise the date by which the employee has to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Department of Home Security (DHS) to begin resolving the TNC. To do this, it is necessary to add 10 federal business days to the date on the employee’s “Referral Date Confirmation” notice. Federal business days are Monday through Friday and do not include federal holidays. Finally, employers need to give the revised notice to the employee.
Employers can reprint a copy of employees’ “Referral Date Confirmation” by logging in to E-Verify, selecting employees’ cases, and the “Print Confirmation” button. In this case, it is necessary to cross out the old date and insert the new date. Employees have until this new date to contact the SSA or DHS to resolve their cases, as applicable.
For TNC cases that were referred after E-Verify resumed operations, it is not obligatory to add days to the time an employee has to contact either SSA or DHS. If an employee decided to contest the TNC when E-Verify was unavailable, employers should refer the employee’s case and follow the TNC process.Use the comprehensive guide to find out how to maintain accuracy in completing I-9 forms, be in accordance with legislation, remain compliant, and prevent any violations.
Federal Contractor Deadlines
E-Verify was not available for federal contractor enrollment use. Due to this, DHS advises that any calendar day E-Verify was unavailable due to the lapse in appropriations should not count towards the federal contractor deadlines found in the Employment Eligibility Verification Federal Acquisition Regulation. Federal Contractors should contact their contracting officer for more information on their specific responsibilities.
Following the temporary re-opening of the government, E-Verify will resume operations, but users may experience longer than usual processing times as E-Verify works through large volumes of accumulated cases. It is also expected that wait times for E-Verify Support will be longer than usual.
If an employee was unable to contest their Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs), they will be allowed additional time to contact the SSA or DHS to begin the process of resolving the TNC. If the employee’s referral date confirmation was received by February 11, 2019, they should:
- Add 10 federal business days to the date printed on the “Referral Date Confirmation” that their employer provided them after the employee contested their TNC where federal business days are Monday through Friday and do not include federal holidays. The employee may also contact their employer if they are unsure of the new date by which they must contact either SSA or DHS to resolve your TNC.
- Contact either SSA or DHS by the new date to begin the process of resolving their TNC.
I-9 and E-Verify Compliance
Hiring employees and verifying their employment eligibility is not a simple procedure. Employers face ever-changing regulatory requirements and failure to fully comply with Form I-9 rules can bring significant civil or criminal penalties. One of the measures that employers can take to ensure workers are legally authorized to get a job in the U.S. is to use E-Verify. By comparing information on an applicant’s Form I-9 to the records of the DHS and the SSA, E-Verify is an effective system for meeting federal employment requirements and policies that can dramatically reduce employers’ liability.
Employers using electronic I-9 systems integrated with E-Verify have a significant advantage over organizations that complete I-9s on paper and manually enter E-Verify cases. This is the most efficient way to help manage the completion and storage of Form I-9 with the possibility of audit trail, management reports, automated error checking, and electronic signature feature. As a result, employers can reduce the burden of a complex and time-consuming process while being prepared in the event of an audit.
In case of interruptions, such as the recent federal shutdown, electronic I-9 systems queue up I-9 forms and automatically submit them as soon as the E-Verify system comes back online. However, even electronic I-9 users can expect longer processing time because of the number of accumulated cases submitted during the 35-day lapse.Use an electronic I-9 solution to closely follow all the latest E-Verify updates, requirements and deadlines and ensure compliance.