The E-Verify online employee status system faced two new hurdles in September. On Sept. 8, the E-Verify Contractor Rule was set to go into effect but faced last-minute court challenges, and on Sept. 31 funding for the system itself was in danger of expiring.

On the first issue, the courts sided with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) in allowing the contractor mandate to go forward. On the second issue, the Senate passed a last-minute bill to fund E-Verify through Oct. 31 when a yearlong funding bill for the parent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expected to pass and extend E-Verify authorization indefinitely.

Since the Sept. 8 implementation of the E-Verify mandate, contractors have been seeking clarification, and over the weeks USCIS has obliged them by posting answers to common questions. Here’s what they’ve said:

Who’s affected by the rule? Any entity accepting a federal contract on or after Sept. 8, 2009, with a length of 120 days or more and a value of $100,000 or more must use E-Verify to certify its employees’ legal status to work in the United States. The same goes for subcontractors meeting the same conditions but with contract values of $3,000 or more. The rule does not apply to contracts for off-the-shelf procurement.

Which employees must be verified? The simple answer is all of them, both existing and new hires.

When do we have to enroll in E-Verify? Once you sign a federal contract, you have 30 days to enroll in E-Verify. Then you have 90 days to complete the verification process for your workforce.

What if we already have a federal contract we’re working on? Then the rule doesn’t apply. The E-Verify Contractor Rule applies only to contracts issued with the E-Verify written notification on or after Sept. 8, 2009.

What if we’re already enrolled in E-Verify? You’re fine except you must check your profile to ensure that your business is listed as a "federal contractor." If not, then update your profile to include that specification.

What does it cost to enroll in E-Verify? The system is completely free and relies on databases at the DHS and the Social Security Administration to verify legal residency status and Social Security Numbers.