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USCIS Provides Guidance on US Passport Photo Matching

This week, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released its latest improvement to the E-Verify system by adding US Passports and Passport Cards to the photo matching process (see our prior alerts which are tagged here). While the overall process for matching a US passport is very similar to the process for matching green cards and EADS, there are some important differences (just released through the “News” section of E-Verify and presented below) which are worth noting. I have also added some screenshots from the Photo Matching Enhancement Tutorial and some additional commentary. Workflow for Tentative Nonconfirmations (TNCs) If an employee who presents a U.S. passport or passport card, receives a TNC before the photo matching step, and then resolves the TNC, E-Verify will require the employer to complete the photo matching step before displaying a case result. A fairly minor change, I suppose, since the employer has to go through the photo step anyway. Note however that the photo matching process for DHS-issued documents (green cards and EADs) has not changed.

What if there is no photo in the DHS database? Occasionally, E-Verify will be unable to access the employee’s photo during the photo matching step. For green cards and EADs, the system will simply bypass the photo matching screen altogether BUT for US passports, it will display “No Photo on this Document” in place of the photo. While this may seem strange, USCIS has advised us that it does not mean there is anything wrong with the photo! Just proceed as usual.

Why can’t I see the photo from the Case Details Page? With green cards and EADs, E-Verify will display a thumbnail of the photo when you view the case details. Not so with U.S. passports and passport cards. According to the announcement, E-Verify will not display a thumbnail of the photo when you view the case details, since they aren’t able to store U.S. passport photos (they can just access them for purposes of matching). E-Verify will, however, continue to display a thumbnail of any photo you attach and submit when you refer a photo mismatch TNC to DHS. E-Verify will display this thumbnail regardless of whether the document is a DHS-issued document or a U.S. passport.

Can I submit an expired US Passport or Passport Card? It depends. A U.S. passport or passport card must be unexpired for any employee whose Form I-9 was completed on or after April 3, 2009 (the effective date of the rule requiring that only unexpired documents be allowed during the I-9 process). In a significant change, E-Verify will now enforce this rule for US Passports or Passport cards by looking to see if the “hire date” is on or after April 3, 2009. If the hire date is before April 3, 2009, the system will accept an expired US passport (which is good news for federal contractors that need to submit older I-9s which showed valid passports at the time). If, however, the hire date is on or after April 3, 2009, an error message will appear and the case will be automatically discontinued. Your only option is to create a new E-Verify case.

What if I enter an incorrect passport expiration date? If an employee receives a DHS TNC and attempts to resolve it, you may see a case status of “Error: Close Case and Resubmit.” This can occur when an employee presents a U.S. passport and the employer selects the wrong passport expiration date. Unfortunately, you can’t change document information for a case that has already been submitted. Therefore, you must close the case and create a new case with the correct passport expiration date. When you close the original case, select the case closure statement, ‘The case is invalid because the data entered is incorrect.’ Lesson learned: try to type that passport expiration date correctly the first time! Reminder: E-Verify is holding two webinars to discuss these issues on the dates below: