Frequently Asked Questions: Federal Contractors and E-Verify
BEFORE YOUR COMPANY ENROLLS IN E-VERIFY
What is E-Verify, how does it work, and why do federal contractors have to enroll in E-Verify?
E-Verify is an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that allows employers to verify the employment eligibility of their employees, regardless of citizenship. Based on the information provided by the employee on his or her Form I-9, E-Verify checks this information electronically against records contained in DHS and Social Security Administration (SSA) databases.
On June 6, 2008, the President issued Executive Order 13465 “Economy and Efficiency in Government Procurement through Compliance with Certain Immigration and Nationality Act Provisions and the Use of an Electronic Employment Eligibility Verification System,” providing that “Executive departments and agencies that enter into contracts shall require, as a condition of each contract, that the contractor agree to use an electronic employment eligibility verification system designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security to verify the employment of: (i) all persons hired during the contract term by the contractor to perform employment duties within the United States; and (ii) all persons assigned by the contractor to perform work within the United States on the federal contract.” The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) was therefore amended to require federal contractors to use E-Verify, which is the system designated to implement the Executive Order.
As a current or prospective federal contractor, am I required by the final rule to enroll in E-Verify now?
The final rule applies to solicitations issued and contracts awarded after the applicability date of the final rule in accordance with FAR 1.108(d). The final rule will become applicable to contractors on September 8, 2009. All employers, including federal contractors, may enroll in E-Verify at any time without waiting for the applicability date. Under the final rule, employers are required to enroll in E-Verify if and when they are awarded a federal contract or subcontract that requires participation in E-Verify as a term of the contract.
If you wish to enroll in E-Verify before the applicability date of this rule you may do so now. Enrolling now may help you become familiar with the system and may make it easier for you to use E-Verify if and when you are awarded a federal contract. Verification of employees through E-Verify is limited to new hires only, unless you are a federal contractor who has been awarded a contract on or after September 8, 2009.
If you have already enrolled in E-Verify and you are awarded a federal contract after September 8, 2009, you will need to update your company profile through the “Maintain Company” page once the contract has been awarded. Once you designate your organization as a federal contractor, all E-Verify users at your company will need to take a federal contractor tutorial that explains the new policies and features that are unique to federal contractors.
My company was just awarded a federal contract and the rule is now in effect. When is my company required to enroll in E-Verify?
When a contractor wins the bid on a federal contract that contains the FAR E-Verify clause, the contractor and any covered subcontractors on the project are required to enroll in the E-Verify program within 30 calendar days of the contract or subcontract award date.
Usage of E-Verify also applies to indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contracts modified after the September 8, 2009 effective date of the rule on a bilateral basis in accordance with FAR 1.108(d)(3) to include the clause for future orders. The FAR rule provides that if the remaining period of performance extends at least six months after the final rule effective date, and the amount of work or number of orders expected under the remaining performance period is substantial, then the contract should be modified to include the clause.
How do I enroll my company in E-Verify?
Before you can start using E-Verify, you need to enroll your company in the program. When you enroll your company, you will be asked to provide basic contact information for your company and agree to follow the rules of the program. At the end of the enrollment process, you will be required to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that provides the terms of agreement between your company and DHS.
You can register your company at the Employer Registration Link in the Related Links of this page.
During the E-Verify company enrollment process, you will be asked “Which category best describes your organization?” If you have been awarded a federal contract after September 8, 2009, you should select “federal contractor” from the drop-down box. Once you have indicated that you are a federal contractor, the system will then prompt you to identify the federal contractor category (e.g., institutions of higher education; state and local governments and governments of federally recognized Indian tribes; and certain sureties) that best describes your organization along with what groups of your current employees you plan to verify (i.e., current employees assigned to the federal contract or your entire workforce).
Once you have completed the enrollment process, USCIS will review your information and activate your account. After the account is activated, you will receive an email with your login instructions, user ID, and password.
How much will it cost my company to enroll in E-Verify?
Nothing; E-Verify is free. It is the best means available for determining employment eligibility of new hires and the validity of their Social Security Numbers.
My company is required to use E-Verify as a federal contractor for the first time. How do I proceed?
If your company has not yet enrolled in E-Verify, then you have 30 days from the date of contract award to enroll and 90 days from the date you enroll with E-Verify to initiate verification queries for employees already on your staff who will be working on the contract and to begin using the system to verify newly hired employees. After this 90-day phase-in period, you will be required to initiate verification of each newly hired employee within 3 business days after their start date. To meet this three-day requirement, employers may initiate verification of a newly hired employee before their start date if the employee has accepted the job offer and filled out the Form I-9. Please note that pre-screening of job applicants is not allowed; the system may be used for new hires only after the employee has been offered the job and has accepted. Please also remember that you must continue to use E-Verify for the life of the contract for all your new hires, whether or not they are employees assigned to the contract, unless certain exceptions apply.
My company enrolled in E-Verify, but did not enroll us as a federal contractor. Does my company need to re-enroll to comply with this rule?
No. You do not need to enroll again, but you will need to update your company profile through the Maintain Company page. Please log in to E-Verify, go to the Maintain Company page, and select the option indicating you are a federal contractor. Once you designate your organization as a federal contractor, all users (including yourself) will need to take a brief federal contract tutorial that explains the new policies and features that are unique to federal contractors. When the employer changes its profile to indicate “federal contractor” it will not be able to proceed with processing cases in E-Verify until it as taken the refresher tutorial.
My company has already been using E-Verify for more than 90 days. When must we begin verifying existing employees assigned to work on a federal contract that contains the FAR E-Verify clause?
If your company has been enrolled in E-Verify for more than 90 days, then you are required to continue to initiate verification of newly hired employees within three business days of their start date, but you have 90 days from the contract award date to begin using E-Verify for each employee already on your staff who are assigned to the contract. Your transition to using the system as a federal contractor does not allow you to stop using E-Verify for your new hires on the standard three-day schedule. The 90-day window in the FAR rule to start using E-Verify for new hires applies to new E-Verify users and is intended to provide additional implementation time.
Please remember that you are required to continue using E-Verify throughout the duration of your federal contract for all new hires, whether or not they are employees assigned to the contract, unless your company falls under one of the exceptions to this policy.
My company’s federal contract has ended. May we continue to use E-Verify?
Yes. Your company may continue to use E-Verify but you should update your company profile through the Maintain Company page. Additionally, you will no longer be able to run existing employees through E-Verify.
My company’s Federal contract has ended. Do we need to notify USCIS if we no longer want to participate in E-Verify?
Yes. Federal contractors who no longer wish to participate in E-Verify after a contract has ended can terminate their participation by selecting the “request termination” link in the E-Verify system. If your company fails to do so then the terms of the MOU remain in place.
FEDERAL CONTRACTS AFFECTED BY THE RULE
Types of Federal Contracts Affected
What is the E-Verify clause?
The rule requires the insertion of the E-Verify clause into applicable federal contracts, committing Government contractors to use E-Verify for their new hires and all employees (existing and new) assigned to any given federal contract.
What is the acquisition threshold for this rule?
The rule requires the insertion of the E-Verify clause for prime federal contracts with a period of performance longer than 120 days and a value above the simplified acquisition threshold ($100,000).
Does the rule apply to subcontracts?
The rule only covers subcontractors if a prime contract includes the clause. For subcontracts that flow from those prime contracts, the rule extends the E-Verify requirement to subcontracts for services or for construction with a value over $3,000.
Does the rule extend to contracts outside the