We’ve had a lot of questions over the past few days about whether employers that conduct background checks or background screening companies would be affected by the federal government shutdown. While we knew that the vast majority of the services we provide would be unaffected, we wondered if we would still be able to complete Federal District Criminal Background Checks. These searches are performed through the federal government’s Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) system and we were concerned that the service could be impacted.
For a quick refresher, Federal Criminal Court Searches identify criminal activity prosecuted through the federal court system. Criminal activity tried in Federal District Courts typically involves violations of the Constitution or other federal law. Such crimes include tax evasion, embezzlement, bank robbery, kidnapping, mail fraud and other federal statute violations.
That said, I couldn’t wait to get in the office this morning to call PACER and find out. I don’t know what I am more surprised by: that I had absolutely zero hold time or that they told me they will not be impacted by the shutdown (at least as of now).
That’s great news for employers (and us), however the same cannot be said for those that utilize the E-Verify system to determine right-to-work employment eligibility status. According to the E-Verify website, users will not be able to access their accounts for the duration of the shutdown. They’ve also advised of the following items that will be unavailable to employers.
- Enroll any company in E-Verify
- Verify employment eligibility
- View or take action on any case
- Add, delete or edit any User ID
- Reset passwords
- Edit your company information
- Terminate an account
- Run reports
- View ‘Essential Resources.’ Please note that all essential resources may be found by visiting www.dhs.gov/e-verify.
In addition, E-Verify Customer Support and related services are closed. As a result:
- Employees will be unable to resolve Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs).
- Telephone and e-mail support will be unavailable. You may send e-mails, however, we cannot respond until we reopen.
- E-Verify webinars and training sessions are cancelled
- E-Verify Self Check will not be available
To minimize the burden on both employers and employees, the following policies have been implemented:
- The ‘three-day rule’ for E-Verify cases is suspended for cases affected by the shutdown. We’ll provide additional guidance once we reopen. This does NOT affect the Form I-9 requirement—employers must still complete the Form I-9 no later than the third business day after an employee starts work for pay.
- The time period during which employees may resolve TNCs will be extended. Days the federal government is closed will not count towards the eight federal government workdays the employee has to go to SSA or contact DHS. We will provide additional time once we reopen.
- For federal contractors complying with the federal contractor rule, please contact your contracting officer to inquire about extending deadlines.
- Employers may not take any adverse action against an employee because of an E-Verify interim case status, including while the employee’s case is in an extended interim case status due to a federal government shutdown (consult the E-Verify User Manual for more information on interim case statuses).
Update 10/1/2013 2:35pm CST:
It looks like I spoke too soon. We just learned that due to the ongoing Congressional budget impasse, courts in Washington, D.C. are experiencing reporting delays. We’ll keep you apprised of the events as they unfold.