E-Verify FAQs

What is E-Verify?

E-verify is a web-based employment authorization verification system, operated by U.S. Citizenship and immigration Services (USCIS), part of the Department of Homeland Security, in partnership with the Social Security Administration.

Why is Columbia participating in E-Verify?

Effective September 8, 2009, the Federal Government requires all federal contractors agree to use an electronic employment eligibility verification system (E-Verify), as a condition of the contract. Columbia University, as a recipient of federal contracts, is subject to this new requirement.

Who must be E-Verified?

All existing personnel – officers of instruction, officers of research, officers of the libraries, officers of administration, student officers and support staff (including casual employees) – who perform substantial duties on a qualifying federal contract are required to be E-Verified.  This includes all current employees hired after November 6, 1986, who are performing work in the United States under a contract or sub-contract that includes the E-Verify clause.

Are there any exceptions to the E-Verify rule?

Yes, there are some exceptions to the E-Verify rule:

Any employee who was hired by Columbia University prior to November 6, 1986 and has been continuously employed at the University.

Any employee who has been granted and holds an active federal agency HSPD-12 compliant credential or a U.S. Government security clearance for access to confidential, secret, or top secret information in accordance with the National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual.

Any employee who may be working under a covered contract, but who normally performs support work, such as indirect or overhead functions, and does not perform any substantial duties applicable to the contract.

Are employees who work on a qualifying contract for a minimal amount of time, or intermittently, subject to E-Verify?

Yes. The rule does not exempt employees based on the intermittent nature of the work or the length of time spent performing the work. Therefore, student employees, Federal Work Study students and casual employees are all subject to E-verify.

I am currently working on a federal contract.  When should I be E-Verified?

Columbia University Human Resources works with Sponsored Projects Administration and several other departments in order to identify new contracts that come into the University with the E-Verify language. Once a contract is identified, all personnel working on that contract will be notified by their department with instructions on when and how to complete the E-Verify process, including a new Form I-9.

What will I need to do to be E-Verified?

Once you receive notification that you must complete the E-Verify process, you will have 15 calendar days to complete the necessary steps:

Complete an electronic Form I-9. The Form I-9 has two required sections:

To complete section 1 of the Form I-9, please refer to the I-9 instructions.

Section 2 of the Form I-9 must be completed at one of the campus I-9 Centers. You must appear in person, with original documents that verify both your identity and your work authorization. Please bring the required documents (the list of acceptable documents is provided to you at the end of section 1) with you to one of the campus I-9 Centers in order to complete Section 2 of the I-9.

The E-Verify query will be run automatically by the I-9 system once you have completed section 2 of the Form I-9. You will receive the result of the query immediately, while you are in the I-9 Center.

What happens if I completed my original I-9 electronically, through I-9 eXpress?

All personnel subject to the new E-verification process will be notified by their department. You will be required to complete a new electronic I-9 as part of the E-Verify process.

What happens if I completed my original I-9 on paper?   

All personnel subject to the new E-verification process will be notified by their department. You will be required to complete a new electronic Form I-9 via I-9 Express. E-Verify will be processed concurrently.

Further instructions on the timing and location for completing a new Form I-9 will be provided in the notification. The E-Verify process is integrated into the completion of section 2 of the Form I-9.

What happens if I am E-Verified for one contract, and then I begin work on a different qualifying federal contract?

Once you have been E-verified by the University and employment authorization has been confirmed, you do not need to be e-verified again while at the University.

What happens if my previous employer ran my information through E-Verify?  Must I do it again?

Yes. Under the rule, all federal contractors are required to enter the worker’s identity and employment information into the E-verify system following completion of the Form I-9 at the time of hire.

What happens if I do not have a Social Security Number?

An employee working on a qualifying federal contract is required to provide his or her SSN in order to complete the E-Verify query.  If you do not have a Social Security Number you should work with your Departmental Administrator in order to obtain a Social Security Number.  Once you receive a number, you can then complete the I-9 and E-Verify process.

I am working at Columbia University on optional practical training through my F-1 Visa. May I complete the E-Verify process and extend my OPT STEM status?

Yes. Please contact the International Students and Scholars Office for more information.

What are the possible responses received when an E-Verify query is run?

There are 6 possible initial responses that could be returned when the I-9 information is submitted to E-Verify:

E-Verify Result

Action Required

Timing

Employment AuthorizedNoImmediate
Employment Authorized with Additional Verification OptionalNoImmediate
Initial Verification not ProcessedYes - employee must wait for resultA few minutes
Employment Authorized with Additional Verification AutomaticYes - PAC Service Center will inform department of outcome3 Government Work Days
SSA or DHS Tentative NonconfirmationYes - employee must resolve issue with SSA/DHS8 Government Work Days to contact agency.  10 GWD total to resolution
DHS Verification in ProcessYes - PAC Service Center will inform department of outcome3 Government Work Days

Employment Authorized – the employee is authorized to work in the United States.  This is the most common initial response received from E-Verify.  When this response is received, the employment eligibility process is complete.  No further action is required.

Employment Authorized with Additional Verification Optional – the employee is authorized to work in the United States. However, DHS can perform a more in-depth verification on this employee at the request of the employer.  Columbia University policy is to not request additional verification once an employment authorized response is received. No further action is required.

Initial Verification not Processed – The I-9 has been completed, but a response has not been received from E-Verify. The system will proved a response within a short period of time.  The employee should remain at the I-9 center until the transaction is processed.

Employment Authorized with Additional Verification Automatic – the employee is authorized to work in the United States. However, the DHS will perform a more in-depth verification on this individual. No action is required by the employee. The system status will automatically be updated to DHS verification in process.  DHS will respond within 3 government work days. Once the status has been updated by DHS, the PAC Service Center will notify the department and your Departmental Administrator will notify you of the result.

SSA or DHS Tentative Nonconfirmation – the information on the employee’s I-9 did not match the information on file at the Social Security Administration (SSA) or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). IT DOES NOT MEAN THE EMPLOYEE IS NOT AUTHORIZED TO WORK. The employee may choose to contest (correct the problem) or not contest (forfeit and terminate employment).

DHS Verification in Process – a definitive answer is not yet available. DHS responds to most of these cases within 24 hours, but has up to 3 government business days to respond.  Once the status has been updated by DHS, the PAC Service Center will notify the department and your Departmental Administrator will notify you of the result.

I received an SSA or DHS Tentative Nonconfirmation result.  Now what do I do?

Receipt of a tentative nonconfirmation simply means that the information on your I-9 does not match the information in the Social Security Administration database or the Department of Homeland Security database.  If you believe this result is an error, please take the following steps:

Work with the I-9 processor to indicate that you are contesting the results from E-Verify.

Read the information provided to you by the I-9 Center regarding the actions you must take to clear up the discrepancy. This information will include information on how to contact SSA or DHS.

You must continue to work.  If you are a new hire, you should go ahead and attend orientation, sign up for benefits, obtain your employee ID, etc.

Contact the appropriate office (Social Security Administration or Department of Homeland Security) within 8 Government Work Days.

Once you have contacted the appropriate government office, Columbia will receive a response to your employment eligibility within 10 government work days from the initial indication that you were contesting the finding.

The Human Resources Processing Center will notify your department of the final E-Verify result.

I received an SSA or DHS Tentative Nonconfirmation result.  However, I did not contact SSA or DHS within the proscribed 8 government work days — now what do I do?

Once the University receives a final nonconfirmation due to a no-show at the government agency, the University is required to terminate your employment. You should contact your Departmental Administrator immediately.

If I have additional questions, who do I speak with?

Please call the Human Resources Service Center at (212) 851-2888.

Additional Information on E-verify can be found through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) E-Verify website.