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E-Verify Update

Forms filled out by 10,700 employees, Human Resources provides context and answers

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April 12, 2010 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Since the E-Verify announcement last fall, 10,700 employees have filled out an I-9, the electronic form that must be completed by all Northwestern employees, with few exceptions, to ensure that the University complies with federal contractor regulations regarding legal employment. 

Form I-9 interfaces with E-Verify, an Internet-based system, operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), that enables employers to verify employment eligibility of their workforces.

Compliance with E-Verify matters to Northwestern, a federal contractor, among other reasons, so that the University can ensure a legal workforce, respond to federal audits and avoid financial fines and withholding of future federal contracts.

"We're very pleased with the cooperation we have received so far," said Pamela S. Beemer, associate vice president for human resources. "And we've put together answers to a number of frequently asked or anticipated questions to guide those who haven't participated yet."

The deadline for completing the E-Verify process is May 31. 

For more information about E-Verify participation, go to: http://www.northwestern.edu/hr/payroll/E-Verify.html

See frequently asked questions about the E-Verify system, compiled by Human Resources, below:


1. What is E-Verify?

E-Verify is an Internet-based system operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). USCIS is the agency in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) responsible for immigration services. E-Verify provides an automated link to federal databases to help employers determine employment eligibility of individuals and the validity of their Social Security numbers.


2. Who is exempt from E-Verify?

Employees exempt from this process include those hired before Nov. 7, 1986, who continued in service with Northwestern and foreign nationals working outside the country.


3. What data is sent to E-Verify from the employee's electronic I-9?

- Employee's name and date of birth

- Social Security Number (SSN)

- Citizenship status the employee attests to in Section 1 of Form I-9

- A number or I-94 number, if not a U.S. citizen

- Type of document provided on Form I-9 to establish work authorization status

- Proof of identity and its expiration date, if applicable


4. How many of the 10,700 employees who already have filled out the I-9 Form have been terminated from Northwestern employment as a result of the E-Verify process?

None.


5. Why is Northwestern participating in E-Verify?

Northwestern is a federal contractor. The E-Verify federal contractor rule states that federal contractors and subcontractors will be required to begin using the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' E-Verify system starting Sept. 8, 2009, to verify their employees' eligibility to legally work in the United States. Federal contracts awarded and solicitations issued after Sept. 8, 2009, may include a clause committing government contractors to use E-Verify. Northwestern received such a contract on Sept. 30, 2009.


6. Why did Northwestern elect to verify its entire workforce?

- To ensure Northwestern has a legal workforce and a valid I-9 on employees who are not exempt from the process.

- To improve accuracy of wage and tax reporting and be better prepared to respond to the increasing likelihood of a federal audit.

- To avoid financial fines, withholding of future federal contracts and other negative consequences of inadvertently missing an individual who subsequently works on a federal contract and is required to complete the E-Verify process.Northwestern faculty and staff are put on and off federal contract funding on a regular basis, and the potential for missing someone who is required to E-Verify is great.

- To ensure ongoing compliance would be challenging if only a fraction of the Northwestern community was E-Verified. Establishing and maintaining a process to track each employee's changes in federal funding to ensure compliance with the E-Verify requirements was considered burdensome on both a cost and administrative basis.

- To have a uniform approach to requiring the E-Verify process, rather than singling out individuals or groups of employees to complete this process.


7. Who must participate in E-Verify?

Form I-9 must be completed by all new hires and individuals who receive employment- related payments and/or scholarships or fellowships through Northwestern payroll including:

Employees

- Staff

- Faculty

- Temporary student and non-student employees who are direct hires of Northwestern


Nonresident aliens


Visiting scholars


Individuals receiving additional or special pay, assistantships (such as graduate assistantships, teaching assistantships, research assistantships) or stipends/scholarships/fellowships

- NRSA post docs

- Graduate students


An I-9 through Northwestern is not required for:

- Unpaid appointments

- Independent contractors

- Temporary employees hired through a staffing agency

- Expense reimbursements

- Royalties

- Non-tuition refunds


E-Verify participation also is required for subcontractors assigned to a prime contract with the E-Verify clause at Northwestern University.


8. Will I have to complete an electronic I-9 every year?

No. Once an individual has completed the electronic I-9, a new one will not be required unless the individual is terminated from the payroll system and is rehired under certain conditions.


9. May I designate a proxy to complete Section 1 of Form I-9 on my behalf?

No. When you complete and sign Section 1 of Form 1-9, you are attesting under penalty of perjury.


For more information about Northwestern's participation in E-Verify, visit the Office of Human Resources Payroll Division at:

http://www.northwestern.edu/hr/payroll/E-Verify.html