Government Shutdown Affects Employment Eligibility Verification

It’s been over three weeks since the partial government shutdown began. More than 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed or are working without pay, and many more government contractors on top of that are struggling to get by—indefinitely—without a job.

While much of the media’s focus has been on the impact of the shutdown on these government workers, the suspension of government services is actually impacting people in all walks of life—all across the country. In many companies, employers are facing increased challenges in verifying the eligibility of their new hires.

Whenever a worker begins a new job, the employee and the employer are required to complete an I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification form. In many companies, the employer must submit this form through an internet-based system known as E-Verify—which compares information in the I-9 against relevant Social Security and Department of Homeland Security records to determine whether the employee is eligible to work in the U.S.

With the shutdown, all E-Verify services are temporarily unavailable. However, the following protections are in place to prevent undue consequences for E-Verify applicants:

  • Three-day rule: Under normal circumstances, an employer has until three business days after a new hire’s first day of employment to file Form I-9 through E-Verify. This deadline does not apply during the shutdown.
  • Contesting a decision: If an employee receives a Tentative Nonconfirmation (TCN) decision from E-Verify, they have the right to contest this decision—and they have a fixed timeframe within which to take action. Any days during which the government is shut down do not count toward this timeline.
  • Adverse employer action: Any employee is protected from any adverse action by their employer as a result the employee’s interim E-Verify status.

The shutdown is creating hardship for many Americans. However, there is a plan in place to protect the jobs of new hires whose employment eligibility cannot currently be verified.