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E-Verify starts off the new year with technical challenges

Updated: Wednesday, January 6

For the last two days, HR and hiring managers across the country have encountered a broad range of issues with E-Verify, the government’s electronic system for verifying a new hire’s eligibility to work in the US. According to E-Verify representatives, users have experienced login issues, have been unable to find cases or clients, and (most importantly) have been unable to complete their verification cases as required by the program rules.

The technical glitches have affected employers using the E-Verify “web” version as well as those connecting to E-Verify through web services via an electronic I-9 platform.

The timing for many busy employers (looking to start off the year strong with new hiring activity) couldn’t have been worse. While E-Verify is still technically a “pilot” program, the system is now used by over a million employers (legal entities), that collectively accounted for over 37 million cases in FY2020 according to E-Verify usage statistics.

Many of these employers use E-Verify as required by the various laws and resolutions passed at the state, city, and local levels which mandate participation. And organizations doing business with the federal government (either as a prime contractor or subcontractor) may be required to use E-Verify by virtue of the so-called federal contractor rule.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) first reported the “unplanned outage” on Monday January 4th at approximately 1:53PM EST. On Tuesday afternoon, USCIS notified us that E-Verify remained unavailable, which then triggered a variety of “policy exceptions” (mentioned below) to minimize the burden on employers and employees.

Finally, on Wednesday, January 6th, USCIS informed employers that the E-Verify outage was resolved as of Tuesday evening at 8:06pm EST. In recognition of the outage (and its effect on E-Verify deadlines), the USCIS announced the following policies for employers:

  • The “three-day rule”was suspended for E-Verify cases affected by the unavailability of E-Verify. This does not affect Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, requirements. Employers must still complete Form I-9 no later than the third business day after an employee starts work for pay, and comply with all other Form I-9 requirements.
  • The time period during which employees may resolve TNCs was extended. The number of days E-Verify is not available will not count toward the days employees have to begin resolving their TNCs.

In an earlier announcement, USCIS also stated the following:

  • For federal contractors covered by the E-Verify federal contractor rule, employers are instructed to contact their contracting officer, as necessary, to inquire about extending federal contractor deadlines.
  • Employers may not take any adverse action against an employee because the E-Verify case is in an interim case status, including while the employee’s case is in an extended interim case status due to the unavailability of E-Verify.
  • Employers should also refer to ICE guidance on COVID 19 and ICE news releases for the latest information on Form I-9, Employment Verification policies.

LawLogix is closely monitoring this situation, and will provide further updates and practice guidance (if any) released by USCIS covering this outage.

In the meantime, please feel free to drop us a line if you have questions regarding today’s E-Verify announcement or would like additional information on Guardian, our electronic I-9 and E-Verify solution which facilitates both I-9 and E-Verify processing.

About John Fay

John Fay is an immigration attorney and technologist with a deep applied knowledge of I-9 compliance and E-Verify rules and procedures. During his career, John has advised human resource managers and executives on a wide variety of corporate immigration compliance issues, including the implementation of electronic I-9 systems. In his current role, John serves as President at the LawLogix division of Hyland Software, Inc., where he oversees all aspects of the division’s operations and provides strategic leadership and direction in the development and support of Form I-9, E-Verify, and immigration case management software solutions.

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