USCIS expands E-Verify Self-Check Coverage to 16 additional States and Adds Spanish-Language Option
Today, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the E-Verify Self-Check Service is now available to residents of 16 additional states with a choice of either English or Spanish language prompts. As previously discussed, the E-Verify Self-Check online application enables individuals to check their work authorization status prior to being hired in order to correct database errors and other inconsistencies which may exist in government records. This opportunity for “self-correction” arose out of concerns with the employer-focused E-Verify process, where employees often have very limited ability to identify, access or correct information that may ultimately lead to a tentative nonconfirmation (TNC) or even a Final Nonconfirmation (FNC). Here’s a quick run-down on the states where Self-Check is available as well as a brief description of how the system works.
Self Check Launch and Expansion
The self-check service initially went live on March 21, 2011, for individuals that maintain an address and are physically located in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
As of today, August 15, 2011, Self-Check is now also available in the following additional states (bringing the total to 21 plus the District of Columbia):
- New Jersey
- New York
- South Carolina
- Washington state
In addition, the entire interface is now also available with Spanish-language prompts and instructions. The program has been working well, without any significant burden on the system or Social Security Administration (SSA) staff – who are tasked with helping individuals correct their records. According to a Fact Sheet released today, more than 18,000 individuals in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Virginia, and the District of Columbia have used it thus far to verify their employment authorization status. In addition, the USCIS has made the following enhancements since March 2011:
- Providing more information to users via the online Self Check Questions and Answers; and
- Enhancing Self Check to provide users with the best possible customer experience. These enhancements include:
- Improving the guidance available to users who either receive notice of a possible mismatch in their records or are unable to complete a Self Check query;
- Adding information relating to the current availability of Self Check;
- Modifying the customer contact phone line to help ensure callers are reaching the right personnel; and
- Augmenting security protections to further guard against potential malicious activity
On the cosmetic side, USCIS announced last week Self-Check has been branded with its own trademark logo (see the E-Verify Connection Newsletter Volume 4 for more information).
How does Self-Check Work?
The E-Verify Self Check process starts with an identity authentication step which is designed to prevent others from viewing an individual’s sensitive information. Once this information has been submitted, users are redirected to an independent identity assurance service page (which looks visibly different than the USCIS site) where they are instructed to take a quiz which is generated based upon the person’s credit history. For example, individuals may see questions such as:
- At which of the following, now or in the past, have you worked?
- Which of the following is your latest start date at the above referenced employer?
- On which of the following streets have you lived?
- Which of the following is either your current or your previous telephone number?
Assuming an individual is able to answer all of the questions, he or she is then redirected back to the USCIS site to enter additional information needed for the Self-Check query. E-Verify Self Check will then contact the E-Verify system through a web service connection and will present one of three results: (1) Work Authorization Confirmed; (2) Possible mismatch with SSA Information or (3) Possible mismatch with Immigration Information.
If the individual receives the SSA or Immigration mismatch, E-Verify Self Check will prompt the individual whether he or she would like to resolve the mismatch or not. If the individual chooses not to resolve the mismatch, E-Verify will close the case. If the individual chooses to resolve an SSA mismatch, a form will be generated that contains the individual’s first and last name, the date and time of the E-Verify query, the E-Verify case number, and detailed instructions on how to resolve the mismatch. If the individual decides to resolve an Immigration Information mismatch, E-Verify Self Check provides instructions to contact E-Verify Customer Contact Office (CCO) to assist in the correction of immigration records 72 hours after the initial query to speak with a status verification representative. If the representative is unable to correct the record, the individual will be advised of actions necessary to correct the error.
Employer Beware: You cannot require employees or potential employees to use Self Check
It’s important for employers to remember that E-Verify can only be used for new hires (or existing employees pursuant to FAR rules) once an offer has been extended and accepted and an I-9 form has been completed. Requiring applicants to provide proof of their employment authorization before establishing an employment relationship is often referred to as “pre-screening” and it may constitute a violation of the anti-discrimination provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Additionally, employers may not require an employee, once hired, to use Self Check. Employers can, however, use E-Verify once they are properly enrolled and as long as they abide by all of E-Verify’s rules and obligations.