On March 21, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas announced the preliminary release of “E-Verify Self Check.” This new online service allows people residing in five states (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Virginia) and the District of Columbia) to confidentially check their eligibility to work in the United States against databases of the Social Security Administration or the Department of Homeland Security.
This new system, essentially a beta release, will allow residents of these states to determine if there are inaccuracies in their records before they seek employment in the United States. The goal is to help reduce the number of errors that resulted from the E-Verify System. This optional system for use by employers has been widely criticized for mistakes that inaccurately misidentified American citizens as ineligible to work in the United States. However, the fact is that the system more frequently fails to catch illegal workers using false identities.
According to Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano,
E-Verify is a smart, simple, and effective tool that allows us to work with employers to help them maintain a legal workforce. The E-Verify Self Check service will help protect workers and streamline the E-Verify process for businesses.
E-Verify Self Check works a lot like checking your credit score, but is free:
- Users visit a USCIS page.
- Users enter identifying information online (such as name, date of birth and address)
- Users confirm their identity by answering demographic and/or financial questions generated by a third-party identity assurance service
- Users enter work eligibility information such as a Social Security number and, depending on citizenship status, an Alien Registration number
- E-Verify Self Check checks user’s information against relevant SSA and DHS databases and returns information on users’ employment eligibility status
Of course, one potential problem is that many foreign-born individuals do not yet have a financial “footprint” in the U.S. for them to answer the financial questions in the status check.
The system will respond with a message of “work authorization confirmed” if the information provided matches the data in the Social Security Administration, Homeland Security, and Department of State databases. If there is a mismatch, the Self Check will provide a message such as “Possible mismatch with SSA” or “Possible mismatch with Immigration Information.” E-Verify Self Check will also provide specific instructions how to fix errors.
And all data is purportedly deleted if the user backs out in the middle of the process.
E-Verify Self Check is not yet available in New Mexico or other states not on this list, but will be expanded in fiscal year 2012 to include about 16 states. After that, Homeland Security officials hope to roll it out nationwide.
When New Mexico is added, I’ll let you know.