You are considering using the federal governmentís E-Verify program to electronically verify your new hiresí eligibility to work in the United States. Youíve heard mixed opinions about the program, however, including claims that its mismatch rate is unacceptably high. What is U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) doing to enhance E-Verifyís accuracy rates?
Use of E-Verify has grown exponentially in the past several years, with an average of 1,000 employers enrolling each week. The percentage of cases queried through E-Verify that were automatically verified as work authorized has steadily improved: up from 83 percent in 2002, to 94.7 percent in 2007, to 96.1 percent in 2008.
Here are some of the enhancements USCIS has made (and plans to make) to E-Verify:
- Automatic flags. In September 2007, E-Verify added flags to the system that allow employers to double-check the data they entered for queries that are about to result in a mismatch. This has reduced data entry errors and initial mismatches by approximately 30 percent.
- Photo screening. Also in September 2007, E-Verify introduced a photograph screening capability that allows participating employers to check the photos on Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) or Permanent Resident Cards (green cards) against images stored in USCIS databases. USCIS is seeking to incorporate state driverís license photos into the tool. This would significantly enhance the system since most new hires present a driverís license for Form I-9 purposes.
- Citizenship and border information. As of May 2008, E-Verify automatically checks USCIS naturalization data, reducing citizenship status mismatches by approximately 39 percent. USCIS and the Social Security Administration (SSA) are also exploring a direct data share that would update SSAís database with naturalized citizen information. Also, as of May 2008, E-Verify added the Integrated Border Inspection System (IBIS) real time arrival and departure information for non-citizens to its databases.
- Passport data. In December 2008, DHS signed a Memorandum of Agreement with the Department of State (DOS) to share passport data and photographs from the DOSís records. Passport data is reducing the number of mismatches issued to naturalized and derivative citizens (citizens who did not personally complete the naturalization process, but derived citizenship from their parents), who present a U.S. passport during the Form I-9 process.
- Student and exchange visitor information. In FY 2010, USCIS plans to improve E-Verifyís ability to automatically verify international students and exchange visitors through the incorporation of Immigration and Customs Enforcementís (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitors Information System (SEVIS) data. ICE also will be launching a new version of SEVIS, which will include employment eligibility information that E-Verify will be able to access electronically.
- Auto-extended EADs. E-Verify also plans to provide automated system updates for any new hire with Temporary Protected Status (TPS) who has an expired EAD but is within an auto-extension time period, thereby decreasing the number of new-hires of TPS recipients that receive an initial mismatch.
- Data entry. Other ways to reduce the number of initial mismatches and improve system performance are being explored by analyzing system data. One example is an effort to improve the date of birth entry field to avoid data entry errors such as reversing the day and month as is done in many other countries. This mismatch reduction initiative includes improving the data matching algorithm and improving usability to reduce data entry errors.
Source: "Priorities Enforcing Immigration Law," Testimony of Michael Aytes, USCIS Acting Deputy Director, April 2, 2009.