E-Verify Connection March 2011: Statistics, Developments, and More
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has released the second edition of the E-Verify Connection newsletter which provides several updates and recent developments relating to the E-Verify program, as well as information on free webinars and live presentations from the E-Verify staff. Loyal followers of our blog will recognize most of these updates, which include the E-Verify GAO Report, the revised I-9 Handbook for Employers, the new EAD/advance parole card, and a study on why employers choose not to participate in E-Verify. This latest one-page E-Verify newsletter is provided here in its entirety. And, since each one of these topics deserves a bit more attention, let’s spend just a few moments on the major “hot” issues in I-9 and E-Verify compliance. The Revised M-274 Handbook for Employers By now, most employers have heard about the new version of the M-274 Handbook for Employers, which provides detailed instructions and examples for completing the Form I-9. We’ve also blogged about the M-274 at length (see prior posts here) and we’ve also held a few webinars discussing the major changes (available for download here). One of the more frequent (and easily-answered) questions we’ve received is whether the handbook is freely available to the public. The answer, by the way, is yes! The USCIS provides a link to the 69-page manual on its website, which can be accessed directly here. While the M-274 is quite comprehensive (some would say daunting), it may not answer ALL of your unique questions relating to I-9 compliance. My recommendation: sit down with the M-274 (budget a few hours), come up with questions, and then speak with counsel. Unfortunately, I-9 compliance has many shades of gray, so don’t be surprised if your attorney says, “Well, it depends…” E-Verify Reports: Scores, Statistics, and Opinions E-Verify is frequently the subject of reports and evaluations (both good and bad), and we’ve seen our fair share over the last two months. First, we have the Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which featured an in-depth look at the E-Verify program and recent statistics based on a performance audit conducted from June 2009 through December 2010. The good news is that the USCIS has reduced the rate of Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs or mismatches) from 8% to 2.6% by expanding the number of databases queried through E-Verify and instituting quality control procedures to screen for data entry errors. Since this report was published, E-Verify now claims that is has further reduced the TNC rate (for FY 2010) to 1.7%. The bad news is that the GAO predicts that inaccuracies and inconsistencies in recording employees’ names will continue to produce erroneous TNCs, which could have a profound impact on employers if E-Verify is made mandatory nationwide. For a detailed article on the GAO report, please read our guest blog here. Next, we have an independent study of E-Verify non-users (those who do not participate) which was prepared by Westat. According to this report, the most common reasons for NOT participating include lack of awareness of the program, no perceived benefits, and concerns that the system would be too costly or time-consuming. The case study participants generally opposed mandatory E-Verify, primarily because of resource constraints. They did, however, support various program changes, including the increased use of technology to identify fraudulent documents, allowing a formal appeal by an employer and/or employee of a final case finding, and allowing verification of job applicants before a job decision is made. For a detailed article on the study, plus a related report from Bloomberg news, please read our guest blog here. Lastly, the newsletter boasts that E-Verify achieved the highest score (compared with other Federal government programs) for customer satisfaction in a recent survey. In particular, respondents rated the overall process very highly, while also giving high marks to photo matching, E-Verify customer service, and the registration process. The entire E-Verify Customer Satisfaction Survey can be viewed here. The new EAD Combo Card While not specifically related to E-Verify, the newsletter reminds us that USCIS is now issuing a new I-766 card (List A document) which serves as both employment authorization and travel authorization. The new dual-purpose card looks almost identical to the current Employment Authorization Document (EAD), except for one line of text near the bottom which reads, “Serves as I-512 Advance Parole.” The introduction of this new card should have minimal impact on employers in their I-9 process, and really serves more as a heads-up on yet another (slight) document variation. To read our full article on the subject, please click here.