E-Verify Deadline Approaches for Federal Contractors
Federal contractors and subcontractors will be required to begin using U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) E-Verify system starting January 15, 2009, to verify their employees’ eligibility to work legally in the United States. In a final rule, the Civilian Agency Acquisition Council and the Defense Acquisition Regulations Council amended the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to reflect this change.
The new rule implements Executive Order 12989, as amended by President George W. Bush on June 6, 2008, directing federal agencies to require that federal contractors agree to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their employees. The amended Executive Order reinforces the policy, first announced in 1996, that the federal government does business only with companies that have a workforce that is authorized to work in the U.S. This new rule requires federal contractors to agree, through language inserted into their federal contracts, to use E-Verify to confirm the employment eligibility of all persons hired during a contract term, and to confirm the employment eligibility of federal contractors’ current employees who perform contract services for the federal government within the U.S.
Federal contracts awarded and solicitations issued after January 15, 2009, will include a clause committing government contractors to use E-Verify. The same clause will also be required in subcontracts over $3,000 for services or construction. Contracts exempt from this rule include those that are for less than $100,000 and those that are for commercially available off-the-shelf items. Companies awarded a contract with the federal government will be required to enroll in E-Verify within 30 days of the contract award date. They also will need to begin using the E-Verify system to confirm that all of their new hires and their employees directly working on federal contracts are authorized to work in the U.S.
The final rule reflects some changes from the proposed rule. The changes are intended to lighten the burden on small businesses that decide to accept federal contracts, and to provide contractors with flexible means of complying with the basic requirement that all persons working on federal contracts be electronically verified.
More than 92,000 employers currently use E-Verify, an Internet-based system operated by the DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration that allows participating employers to verify the employment eligibility of their employees electronically. During fiscal year 2008, more than 6.6 million employment verification queries were run through the system, representing one out of every eight people hired in the U.S. Approximately 96.1 percent of all cases queried through E-Verify are found to be employment-authorized, and individuals who are not immediately cleared are given the opportunity to correct their records, USCIS said.
Related USCIS announcement
USCIS “frequently asked questions” sheet