U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has fully resumed operations following the partial government shutdown, and all E-Verify features and services are now available. Now, employers that participate in E-Verify have until Monday, February 11 to create and enter cases into the system for all hires made during the 35-day government shutdown.
Normally, employers enrolled in E-Verify, the government’s electronic employment eligibility verification program, are required to use the system to run checks on new workers within three days of hire, which is defined as the first day of work for pay. During the government shutdown, however, the three-day rule for E-Verify cases was suspended. Similarly, the time period during which employees could resolve Tentative Nonconfirmations (“TNC”) was extended due to the government shutdown. USCIS stated that: “Days the federal government [was] closed will not count towards the eight federal government workdays the employee has to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).” However, employers were still required to satisfy the Form I-9 requirements for every person hired by completing the Form I-9 no later than the third business day after the employee starts work for wages or other remuneration.
Now, employers enrolled in E-Verify need to create and enter cases into the system for all employees hired during the government shutdown for whom a Form I-9 was completed. USCIS has instructed employers to use the hire date from the employee’s Form I-9 when creating the E-Verify case. If the case creation date is more than three days following the workers’ start date, the employer should select “Other” from the drop-down menu asking for an explanation and enter “E-Verify Not Available.”
Furthermore, any TNCs that were not able to be resolved due to the shutdown need to be addressed during this time. If an employee has received a TNC and notified the employer of his or her intention to contest it by February 11, employers must add ten federal business days to the date on the worker’s “Referral Date Confirmation” notice. Federal business days are Monday through Friday and do not include federal holidays. The employee must contact the SSA or DHS by this adjusted date to begin resolving the TNC. For TNC cases that were referred after E-Verify resumed operations, there is no need to add days to the referral date.
Again, as E-Verify was not available for federal contractor enrollment or use during the government shutdown, DHS has reiterated that any calendar day during which E-Verify was unavailable will 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 about the impact of the government shutdown on their operations related to E-Verify.
If you have any questions on this topic or need assistance, please contact our Labor & Employment Law Practice Group. We encourage you to subscribe to our Labor & Employment E-Briefs to get the latest HR news, tips, and updates.