E-Verify Update: Naturalization, Arrival Data Incorporated
Any participating company in the U.S. can access E-Verify through a government Web site that compares employee information taken from the employment authorization verification form (I-9) with more than 444 million records in the Social Security Administration (SSA) database, and more than 60 million records in Department of Homeland Security immigration databases.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) claims that 99.5 percent of all work-authorized employees queried through E-Verify were verified without receiving a mismatch notice (Tentative Non-Confirmation (TNC)) or having to take any type of corrective action. This statistic is at odds with the view of many immigration advocates. Angela Kelley, director of the Immigration Policy Center, has noted that “[a]lmost 10 percent of naturalized citizens have received notifications about some error in their data since many of them, after their naturalization, don’t notify the Social Security [Administration] of their new citizenship status.” The New York Times said in an editorial on May 12 that “the Social Security database is rotten with errors” and the system “could force millions of Americans to battle a computerized bureaucracy that tells them, unjustly, that they cannot work.” The editorial also cites “evidence of employers abusing E-Verify” by “forcing workers who are tentatively flagged as unauthorized to take pay cuts or work longer hours until they can clear their names.”
USCIS says that employees whose work authorization cannot be instantly verified may work with SSA or USCIS, as appropriate, to confirm their work authorization. USCIS estimates that one percent of all queried employees choose to contest an initial, tentative result from E-Verify, and only half of those who contest that result are ultimately found to be authorized.
A series of enhancements, intended to improve the accuracy of the system’s automatic confirmation processes, was recently announced. USCIS said the E-Verify system will begin to include naturalization data, noting that naturalized citizens who have not yet updated their records with the SSA are the largest category of work-authorized persons who initially face an SSA mismatch in E-Verify. A naturalized citizen who receives a citizenship mismatch with SSA may call USCIS to resolve the issue, in addition to the option of resolving the mismatch in person at any SSA field office.
E-Verify also will now include real-time arrival data from the Integrated Border Inspection System. This additional data source is expected to reduce the number of immigration status-related mismatches for newly arriving workers.
USCIS also plans to initiate citizenship status records information-sharing with SSA to further prevent mismatches from occurring. E-Verify also plans to use checks against Department of State passport records in the near future.
More than 64,000 employers nationally participate in E-Verify, with approximately 1,000 new enrollments weekly. E-Verify evolved from the Basic Pilot/Employment Eligibility Verification Program originally developed in 1997 and made available to employers as a Web-based system in 2004. USCIS operates the program in partnership with SSA.
Related notices are available here and here. Information on E-Verify and work authorization is available here.