No it’s not you — E-Verify is down

Gridlock in the current government is directly impacting the workplace.  One of the agencies directly affected by the shutdown is the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”).  As a result, the E-Verify program is offline and is expected to remain unavailable until the government is again funded.

While this presents an invariable challenge, don’t let it get you down or allow your New Year to start off on the wrong foot.  Let’s discuss the situation so you can successfully maneuver through this frustrating situation while remaining in compliance and not allowing the shutdown to adversely impact your business.

As a threshold matter, let’s point out what you WON’T be able to do during the shutdown:

  • Enroll in E-Verify;
  • Verify employment eligibility;
  • View or take action in any case;
  • Add, delete, edit any user ID;
  • Add, delete or edit company information;
  • Reset passwords;
  • Terminate accounts;
  • Run reports;
  • View “Essential Resources.”

E-Verify telephone and email support will also remain unavailable.  One of the largest challenges this presents is the inability to resolve Tentative Nonconfirmations (when the information entered into E-Verify fails to match what is in the record).

To minimize the burdens this places on both employers and employees, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has implemented the following policies:

  • USCIS has suspended the “three-day rule” for in any case impacted by the shutdown.
  • The period to resolve TNCs is extended.  Each day the shutdown continues will not count towards the eight federal government workdays the employee has to resolve the issue.  USCIS has further stated it will provide additional time to resolve TNCs once they reopen.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  1. Complete I-9s!  You should still comply with the rule requiring you to complete the I-9 no later than the third business day after an employee’s start date.
  2. DO NOT TAKE ADVERSE ACTION against an employee because of an E-Verify interim case status.
  3. Do not refuse to hire an employee because he or she cannot be verified in the system.  Employees should not be prejudiced because of the shutdown.
  4. Prepare as though services will resume at any time.   Don’t let this situation negatively impact your operations by creating a backlog.  Prepare for an increased volume in cases.  Also, consider implementing processes to follow once the system is restored to avoid missing any steps.  Plan now!
  5. Remain in compliance!  Remember, workplace enforcement remains a high priority for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

In the meantime, HIRE!  Do not let this shutdown affect your business needs.  Good faith completion of your I-9 is an affirmative defense against an accusation of knowingly hiring unauthorized workers.

Of course, don’t hesitate to contact us should you have any questions.   We’re here for you.  602.354.2833 or info@alejandroperezlaw.com.

This blog is provided by The Law Firm of Alejandro Pérez, PLC and its affiliates for educational and informational purposes only.  It is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice.    

 

 

Winter (well, ICE) is coming . . .

You may recall President Donald Trump issuing his first set of immigration orders and announcing enforcement as the orders’ primary purpose.  “The Presidential Order on Buy American and Hire American” made specific plans to increase workplace enforcement.  The Acting Director of ICE, Thomas Homan, confirmed ICE’s stance on workplace enforcement.  You can see his speech here.  If you don’t have an hour and a half to spare, the most salient points of Homan’s speech included:

  • ICE has already increased the number of inspections and worksite operations
  • A further significant increase in these activities is a plan for the next fiscal year
  • The time spent on enforcement will rise by four or five times
  • ICE will not only prosecute employers who hire illegal workers but also detain and remove illegal workers

Guess what?  ICE is making good on its promise.  As of earlier this year, ICE has served more over 5,000 audit notices to business owners across the country.  Since the beginning of ICE’s fiscal year (October) , it has initiated over 60 investigations.  These investigations have resulted in approximately 675 criminal arrests and 1,000 administrative arrests.

Derek Benner, Acting Director of Homeland Security Investigations recently stated:

“Employers need to understand that the integrity of their employment records is just as important to the federal government as the integrity of their tax files and banking records. All industries, regardless of size, location and type are expected to comply with the law. Worksite enforcement protects jobs for U.S. citizens and others who are lawfully employed, eliminates unfair competitive advantages for companies that hire an illegal workforce, and strengthen[s] public safety and national security.”

The mandate is clear, friends. And the penalties are great.  Fines for paperwork violations range from $216 to $2,156 per form.  If an employer is found to have employed an unauthorized worker, it will be fined up to $16,000 per count and face criminal exposure.

Now is the time to make sure you are in compliance!   Hiring an attorney to review evaluate your I-9 form practices will assist you in avoiding potential fines and even possible criminal exposure.

The Law Firm of Alejandro Perez is experienced in issues relating to I-9 and overall workplace compliance.  We are experienced in conducting audits to correct mistakes and remedy any potentially unlawful practices.  We are also able to provide training to assist you in implementing a proper compliance system to avoid fines, lawsuits, and criminal liability.  We can also assist you if you are facing a government audit or civil lawsuit.  Please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance:  info@alejandroperezlaw.com or 602.354.2833.

—–

This blog is provided by The Law Firm of Alejandro Pérez, PLC and its affiliates for educational and informational purposes only.  It is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice.