The E-Verify program was created in 1996 as part of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). Its purpose is to allow any U.S. employer to verify the employment eligibility of all new hires, in compliance with the legal requirements in IIRIRA. E-Verify works by comparing the employee’s data with Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security records to verify the new hire’s identity and work authorization.

E-Verify is mandatory in certain circumstances. Nationwide, certain federal contractors are required to use E-Verify under a Federal Acquisition Regulation, or “FAR,” requirement). A federal contractor, for purposes of E-Verify, is an entity with a prime contract with a branch of the federal government where the contract is (1) valued greater than $100,000, (2) has a period of performance greater than 120 days, and (3) has a FAR clause. Participation in E-Verify is not initiated by the contractor, but rather by the government entity responsible, which must include a FAR clause in any qualifying contract.

In addition to the federal FAR requirement, many states have implemented E-Verify laws. Currently, 16 states require E-Verify in some form. Six states require all or nearly all employers to use E-Verify: Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina and South Carolina. Five states require public employers and public contractors and subcontractors to use E-Verify: Indiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Virginia. Three states require only public contractors to use E-Verify: Louisiana, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. In Idaho, only public employers are required to use E-Verify. Finally, in Florida, by Executive Order, only state agencies under direction of the Governor are required to use E-Verify.

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s blessing of Arizona’s E-Verify law in Chamber of Commerce v. Whiting, employers can expect that even more states will require E-Verify. The Center for Immigration Studies has published a report that provides insight and detailed information regarding the “nuts and bolts” of the E-Verify law in each of these 16 states where E-Verify is required.

To help employers stay in compliance, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released “self assessments” that provide checklists for employers regarding E-Verify. USCIS guides are available for download for direct users and web services users.