1.1 Background And Overview

In 1996, Congress passed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA), which required the Social Security Administration (SSA) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service, to conduct an employment verification pilot program. Under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), USCIS operates the E-Verify program, previously referred to as the Basic Pilot program. E-Verify is an internet-based system that implements the requirements of IIRIRA by allowing any U.S. employer to electronically verify the employment eligibility of its newly hired employees.

E-Verify is a voluntary program. However, employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause are required to enroll in and use E-Verify as a condition of federal contracting. Employers with employees in states with legislation that require participation in E Verify, for example, as a condition of business licensing, may also be required to participate in E Verify. In addition, an employer may be required to participate in E-Verify pursuant to a court order.

NOTE: E-Verify does not provide guidance on state or local E-Verify laws. For help, contact the appropriate state officials, a local Chamber of Commerce, or other legal advisors.

Apart from any state or local law that requires participation in E-Verify, employers are fully responsible for complying with sections 274A (which addresses the requirements of the Form I-9 process) and 274B (which addresses unfair immigration-related employment practices) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Employers who fail to comply with either section may be subject to penalties.

E-Verify works by electronically comparing the information from an employee’s Form I-9 with records available to SSA and/or DHS to verify the identity and employment eligibility of each newly hired employee and/or employee assigned to a covered federal contract.

Employers can verify the employment eligibility of only one person at a time within E-Verify. All cases must be created individually.

E-Verify is free and it is the best means available to confirm the employment eligibility of new hires. E-Verify is currently available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam the U.S. Virgin Islands and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

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