Heading for its fourth week, the government shutdown continues to impact workers and employers nationwide. Due to the shutdown, E-Verify, the Internet-based system used to compare information on the Form I-9 to other government records to confirm that someone is authorized to work in the United States, is unavailable. According to the government-run website, E-Verify and E-Verify services are unavailable “due to the lapse in federal funding.” Although E-Verify is a voluntary program for most employers, employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that contain an E-Verify clause are required to use E-Verify.
Employers normally have three days to run information on new hires through E-Verify, but with no end to the government shutdown in sight, employers are left to wonder what they should do in the interim. This is really uncharted territory at this point, but it isn’t realistic to think that employers can hold off on hiring for the duration of the government shutdown. Employers should continue to hire; complete the Form I-9, including review of appropriate documentation; and complete the E-Verify process once the system is back up and running. With employers nationwide struggling with this situation, there is likely to be a rush among them to complete the process once the shutdown is over. But at this point, their hands are tied.