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E-Verify begins validating driver’s license data with National Law Enforcement Tracking System

As of October 1, 2018, the E-Verify system can now check driver’s license data from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico for employers using E-Verify through the “web” interface. Employers using electronic I-9 providers (who access E-Verify through web services) will have access to this new validation feature on November 12, 2018.

E-Verify’s latest enhancement arrives courtesy of a new partnership with the National Law Enforcement Tracking System (NLETS), a national database of law enforcement, criminal justice, and public safety-related information. According to the E-Verify notice, expanded driver’s license checking will “dramatically reduce fraudulent use of driver’s license data for work authorization, allowing employers to be more confident in the validity of employee’s identify information.”

E-Verify critics have long pointed out that the system cannot tell if a new hire uses a social security number belonging to a real individual along with a fake driver’s license (which has been modified to match the SSN holder’s name and date of birth). As long as the SSN is authorized for employment (and otherwise matches the data submitted), the employee might sail right through the E-Verify check.

This concern is compounded by the fact that driver’s licenses and ID cards account for nearly 80 percent of the documents used as proof of identity by employees whose cases are submitted to E-Verify. And while E-Verify can validate social security numbers in the course of performing a verification, the system has historically ignored driver’s license data for the vast majority of states in the country.

NLETs vs. RIDE

If you’ve been following E-Verify enhancements over the past few years, this driver’s license data validation feature might sound very familiar. And as it turns out, E-Verify has been checking driver’s licenses and ID cards for some time now through the Records and Information from DMVs for E-Verify (RIDE) program. Introduced in 2011, RIDE enabled individual states to partner with E-Verify to share driver’s license and state ID information in order to validate new employee verification requests.

The chief disadvantage with RIDE, however, is that each individual state has to sign an agreement with E-Verify before the validation can be enabled in the system (a process which often took months or longer to negotiate). As a result, only 10 states have been activated under the RIDE program – Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Meanwhile, this new NLET partnership provides E-Verify with immediate access to a national database of driver’s license data, without the need to setup separate agreements. Individual states can still “opt out” of the program, but E-Verify anticipates a fairly high participation rate.

What does this mean for employers using E-Verify?

In an effort to demystify this new enhancement, we’ve assembled a short list of FAQs that may arise from your HR and hiring staff in the coming weeks. As with all things I-9/E-Verify related, it’s always a good idea to check with your own counsel if thorny questions arise.

(1) How does driver’s license validation occur during the E-Verify process?

If your new hire presents a driver’s license, driver’s permit, or state-issued ID card during the I-9 process, E-Verify will automatically prompt you to enter the document number when you’re typing the information into the system. If E-Verify detects a mismatch with the information from the DMV, and you are unable to resolve it, you will eventually receive a tentative nonconfirmation (TNC) informing you of the issue. As with any TNC, you must then notify the employee (through the Further Action Notice) and provide him/her with the opportunity to contest.

(2) Will the E-Verify system enable employers to compare the actual photograph that was on file with the DMV with the driver’s license presented by the new hire?

No. At present, E-Verify will only validate the driver’s license or ID card data (driver’s license number, name, and DOB) as compared with the information entered into E-Verify. Photo matching is only available for US passports, US passport cards, green cards, and EADs.

(3) Will there be updates to the Further Action Notice (FAN) to instruct employees on how to resolve mismatches in their driver’s license data?

Yes, the USCIS has modified the FAN for E-Verify web users to include language requesting the employee to contact a State Motor Vehicle Agency if instructed by DHS. Employers using an electronic I-9 solution to use E-Verify will not have access to the updated FAN letters until after the agency releases new web services specifications (currently forecast for 2019).

(4) Will E-Verify be implementing state-specific document number validation, which takes into account the various numbering rules for individual states?

No. According to the agency, they will only require the document number to be between 1 and 17 alphanumeric characters (to take into account the various formatting schemes in use by the states).

(5) Is there anything that we (HR managers) should do to prepare for this new enhancement?

First and foremost, you should prepare yourselves for the possibility of additional TNCs (which may occur because of actual fraud or innocent mistakes in the DMV databases). In particular, make sure your I-9 verifiers follow a carefully orchestrated TNC process which not only informs the new hire of the mismatch, but also enables him/her to contest the TNC and continue working in the interim. You should also implement a process for TNC follow-up and take appropriate action when a final result is received back from the system.

You should also consider using an integrated electronic I-9 and E-Verify system, which can automatically transmit the driver’s license document ID and expiration date to E-Verify once it has been recorded in section 2 of the I-9 and “approved” for sending to E-Verify. This step not only saves time but also reduces the likelihood that document information might be transcribed incorrectly from the I-9 form (and every mistake can lead to a TNC). A well-designed electronic I-9 system will also apply the correct document ID validation and walk you through the entire TNC process (from employee notification to signature to follow-up).

Need more information on E-Verify driver’s license verification or electronic I-9 system integration? Please contact us with any questions you might have!


About John Fay

John Fay is an immigration attorney and technologist with a deep applied knowledge of I-9 compliance and E-Verify rules and procedures. During his career, John has advised human resource managers and executives on a wide variety of corporate immigration compliance issues, including the implementation of electronic I-9 systems. In his current role, John serves as Vice President and General Counsel at the LawLogix division of Hyland Software, Inc., where he is responsible for overseeing product design and functionality while ensuring compliance with ever-changing government rules.

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