CHICAGO – Congress approved a bill that extends the federal E-Verify program for three more years, according to the National Restaurant Association (NRA).

The bill extends the program through Sept. 30, 2015. It allows employers to input I-9 information into an online database to verify whether new hires are eligible for employment in the US. The program was made available to all 50 states in 2003.

E-Verify is mostly a voluntary program, however 19 states have mandated E-Verify. According to a report from the NRA and ImmigrationWorks USA, many states require federal contractors and state agencies to use E-Verify, while other states mandate E-Verify for some private businesses.

Some trade groups, such as the NRA and the American Meat Institute, support E-Verify. AMI is a strong proponent of the E-verify program and supports its mandatory application. The NRA said that in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform, the organization supports a uniform federal E-Verify system that "timely, efficient, accurate and easy for businesses to use."

"The NRA also believes that employers who use a system in good faith should not be held liable for actions taken on the basis on information provided," the association said.