has once again hit one out of the park with an insightful article about e-Verify and how mandates regarding its use impact federal contractors. Author Eric Ledbetter walks step by step through the situations in which a contractor must use the e-Verify system, when it is advisable to do so voluntarily, and when it might be best to wait.

Although the general understanding is that all federal contractors/subcontractors must enroll in e-Verify, this is not exactly true. There are a number of situations in which exemptions are permitted. For example, enrollment is not required if the contract is of short duration (less than 120 days) or for a small dollar amount (less than $100k under the simplified acquisition threshold definition). If all contracted work is performed outside the U.S., the e-Verify rule also doesn’t apply – since the system is only intended to determine if employees are eligible to work in the United States.

When To Sign Up

Ledbetter outlines scenarios in which a contractor might choose to sign up for e-Verify even when it is not required. For example, if a company knows that it has a high likelihood of landing a federal contract in the near future it might behoove them to start looking into the program. However, employers are not required to participate in e-Verify until they have actually been awarded a qualifying federal contract. Then they have a 30 day window to sign up and an additional 90 days for implementation. The contractor can choose to use e-Verify only for employees who will be working on the federal contract or for all new hires. Many companies choose the “all in” option to reduce the administrative hassle of handling two separate procedures.

One potential drawback of implementing a sweeping e-Verify initiative is that you have to immediately fire any employees who are proven not to be work eligible. That could significantly impact business operations. On the flip side, if you are investigated by ICE and found to be knowingly using less than best practices to avoid having to fire illegal workers you could be in much worse trouble (whopping fines and criminal prosecution are possibilities).

Either way, starting with a thorough internal I9 audit under the supervision of legal council to prepare for the use of e-Verify is wise. The implementation period offered by the federal government may seem generous, but the time can really fly. HR administrators require training to use e-Verify in compliance with the law, and policies/procedures must be developed in advance for how tentative non-conformations will be handled.

As far as actually interfacing with the e-Verify system goes, Emerald Software Group can help with that step. Our Universal Onboarding solution is designed to integrate easily with this free government program so you can automate the verification process, plus we offer the option of completely outsourcing your I9 management function to us including the administration of e-Verify.