T-minus 2 weeks: Many federal contractors / subcontractors will have to use E-Verify for I-9 identity checks

In less than two weeks, a new federal law will require many federal contractors and subcontractors to use a particular service to perform identity-document verification for new hires.

It is well-known that employers are required to complete and keep on file a Form I-9 for each individual employed within the United States. The form is used by an employer to verify an employee’s identity and to establish that the worker is eligible to accept employment in the United States. To properly complete a Form I-9, the employer must review and record identity documents (for example, social security cards, passports, and visas) to determine whether they reasonably appear to be genuine and related to the individual. In this process, many businesses choose to use E-Verify, a web-based voluntary program run by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to perform the document verification.

Beginning on Monday, September 8, 2009, most federal contractors and subcontractors will be required to use E-Verify (as opposed to using another service instead) to confirm that new hires and current employees working on federal contracts are authorized to work in the United States. Specifically, the requirement will affect federal contractors whose period of performance exceeds 120 days and whose contract exceeds $100,000, and subcontractors whose subcontract exceeds $3,000.

Momentum appears to be growing for legislation that requires all employers – not just federal contractors and subcontractors – to use E-Verify. In fact, many states already require use of E-Verify by state and/or local governments and their contractors, or are considering implementing this requirement. For example, in Nebraska, state and local agencies and their contractors and subcontractors must use the E-Verify system for any new hires after October 1, 2009.

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