Government shutdown: Employers confused by loss of background check

The partial government shutdown has cut off U.S. employers from a federal system designed to help them avoid hiring immigrants not allowed to work in the nation.

And that’s causing confusion for some employers in Georgia and around the nation.

Georgia law requires most employers in the state to check new hires using E-Verify, the U.S. government’s electronic verification system, according to Ian Macdonald, an Atlanta attorney who chairs law firm Greenberg Traurig’s immigration group.

But employers are running into a wall when they try to use the system. This note has been posted on E-Verify’s site: “Due to the lapse in federal funding, this website will not be actively managed .... E- Verify and E-Verify services are unavailable.”

Immigration attorneys say they continue to hear from employers confused about what steps they are legally required to take while the system is unavailable. Normally companies have three days to check hires through E-Verify.

Macdonald said companies need to continue to fill out required forms on new hires, but they’ll have to remember to complete the process on E-Verify when the system is restored.

Both Macdonald and Atlanta immigration attorney Charles Kuck said they were not aware of any employers holding off on hiring because of the E-Verify situation.

But they said there may be inconveniences and hassles down the road. The longer the shutdown lasts, the more employers will be rushing to put employees through the system when it is back up.

“It’s going to be a pain in the neck,” Macdonald said.

Kuck predicted that some unauthorized workers who would normally be flagged by E-Verify will manage to get and keep jobs until the system is back up. Meanwhile, employers will have spent time and money to train them, he said.

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