Becoming the latest state to mandate E-Verify usage, Governor Bob McDonnell announced that Virginia state government agencies will be required to utilize the online system for new hires effective July 1, 2011, in order to determine the employment eligibility of new hires.

Virginia had already passed a law in 2010 (H.B. 737) requiring state executive branch agencies to use E-Verify starting in December 1, 2012, and amending a state code provision to make it a misdemeanor for any Virginia employer to knowingly hire or employ persons not eligible to work in the United States. Federal laws already prohibit the knowing hire or employment of such individuals. Governor McDonnell’s latest move will replace state agencies’ current procedures on employment verification and accelerate the E-Verify requirement from the initial date of December 1, 2012, to July 1, 2011.

A spokesperson for the Governor’s office stated that the acceleration of the E-Verify requirement was due in part to recent upgrades in the E-Verify system, including the launch of the E-Verify Self-Check tool, which went live March 21. Provided by the Department of Homeland Security, this new web tool is available to workers for the purposes of checking the accuracy of their information in the relevant databases (Social Security Administration and DHS). The initial release is available only to individuals with addresses in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Virginia and the District of Columbia. The Self-Check tool asks certain questions aimed to verify the identity of the individual. Once verified, the individual can then confirm whether or not the relevant databases accurately reflect his or her appropriate work authorization status. If the self-check results in a possible mismatch with either the SSA or DHS database, the individual would have an opportunity to correct this information prior to going through the same verification procedure while in the process of joining a new company. As the program is quite new, it is too early to judge whether it is effective. Stay tuned for more updates on this and other E-Verify developments.