USCIS provides guidance on submitting passport numbers and visa numbers in E-Verify that just won’t fit
Earlier this week, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published new guidance concerning how to enter an employee’s US passport number or visa number (applicable only for certain foreign national employees) into E-Verify when the system refuses to accept it.We previously wrote about this dilemma back in September, and I’m very happy to see that USCIS has issued formal instructions to address this confusing problem. As explained in the announcement, the E-Verify system imposes strict data field requirements for both the US passport and the visa number fields in order to minimize the number of typos and incorrect information that may be entered into E-Verify from the I-9 form. Here are the current restrictions along with the USCIS-approved work-around: U.S. Passport A U.S. Passport number, circled in the image below, usually contains nine numeric characters, and E-Verify strictly enforces this requirement. There are, however, a few versions of the U.S. Passport still in circulation that may contain eight characters – one letter followed by seven numeric characters. For these U.S. Passports, E-Verify instructs you to replace the leading letter with two zeroes (00) in the U.S. Passport number so that you enter exactly nine numeric characters. For example, if the employee’s U.S. Passport number is ‘Z1234567’, enter ‘001234567’ in E-Verify. [Editor’s note: we’ve also seen other combinations where the letter is somewhere in the middle of the passport number. For these instances, you would presumably have to remove the letter and add a zero in order for E-Verify to accept it.]
Visa If you complete an E-Verify case for a foreign national who presents a foreign passport with I-94, you may notice a field where you can provide the “Visa Number” or “Visa Foil Number” as it’s also known. Previously, the USCIS had provided guidance stating that employers could reduce the probability of a TNC on a foreign employee who presented a passport by providing the visa number. The idea is that it would give the status verifiers an extra piece of information to lookup a foreign national’s status in case of an initial mismatch (also known as “DHS Verification in Process”). Note, however, that providing an incorrect visa number would not in of itself produce a TNC. It’s only used as a secondary piece of information in the event of an initial mismatch.
A U.S. visa number, circled in the image above, usually contains eight numeric characters. In some cases, a U.S. visa number contains one letter (usually a “C”) followed by seven numeric characters. For these U.S. visas, E-Verify instructs you not to enter the visa number at all. Instead, you must leave the visa number field blank for any U.S. visa number that is not exactly eight digits. Fortunately, the visa number field is optional anyway, so skipping this field should not be a big issue for most employers. One E-Verify dilemma solved. Thanks, USCIS! And Happy New Year to all!