E-Verify is an internet-based system, run by the Department of Homeland Security in conjunction with the Social Security Administration, which allows employers to verify information provided on an employee’s Form I-9 (Employment Eligibility Verification) to determine if the employee is authorized to work in the United States.
In 1998, the President issued an Executive Order, which was later amended to essentially require federal contractors to use E-Verify. Therefore, after September 6, 2009, any company awarded a covered federal contract which contains an E-Verify clause is required to verify the employment eligibility of all new employees and any existing employees who are assigned to the covered federal contract. A covered federal contract is a prime contract with a period of performance longer than 120 days and a value above $100,000, or a subcontract (so long as the prime contract contains the E-Verify clause) if services or construction has a value of over $3,000.
Many states are weighing in on the issue of requiring employers to use E-Verify. In 2008, Arizona became the first state to require all employers to enroll in the E-Verify system. Since then, twelve other states have passed laws requiring the use of E-Verify for either state employers, city employers or all employers, and several other states are currently considering enacting legislation requiring the use of E-Verify. Maryland currently has no legislation requiring employers to use E-Verify. However, earlier this year, the Maryland Senate considered a bill which would require employers under a State procurement contract or State grant to use E-Verify. No formal action was taken with the bill, rather, the issue was referred for a study.
It should be noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has recently agreed to hear challenges to Arizona’s immigration laws. Included in those challenges will be the issue of mandatory use of E-Verify for Arizona businesses. The willingness of the Supreme Court to consider the E-Verify issue indicates that the widespread use of E-Verify for federal, state and/or private employers is far from settled.