The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that, on March 18, 2011, it will launch the E-Verify Self Check Program, a secure web portal that allows an individual to verify his or her work authorization status. Previously, only employers could conduct E-Verify checks, and, in the event of a possible mismatch, the prospective employee needed to resolve the matter, thereby delaying his or her possible hire and/or start date. The Self Check Program will allow individuals to correct any identity information errors that the E-Verify system might contain, thereby “provid[ing] a vehicle for an individual to proactively check work authorization status prior to the employer conducting the E-Verify inquiry.”
The Self Check program is a two-stage process: Stage 1 requires users to verify their identities; Stage 2 examines whether the individual is legally authorized to work in the United States.
Stage 1: Identity Authentication
Self Check participants must first verify their identity, which is accomplished by answering between two and four “knowledge-based questions” built on information collected by third party Identity Proofing (IdP) services. The information, collected from financial institutions, public records, and other service providers, will include, e.g., the individual’s commercial transaction history, mortgage payments, or past addresses.
In the event insufficient identity verification sources exist, users cannot proceed to Stage 2. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will receive notice that insufficient information exists, but no other information. Moreover, the agency will compile statistics on users’ inability to complete verification based on insufficient identity data.
If sufficient information exists but a user provides incorrect responses, he or she will “fail” and not advance to Stage 2. Again, USCIS will be alerted, but will not receive specific information relating to the failure, e.g., chosen responses. The information received will be used to generate statistics on failed attempts. Moreover, in the event of multiple attempts to authenticate an individual, the DHS contract authorizes the IdP to notify the information provider of potential fraud and to terminate access to E-Verify Self Check.
However, if sufficient information exists and the user provides correct responses, the user will “pass” and progress to Stage 2.
Stage 2: Confirmation of Work Authorization Status
In Stage 2, the user will be required to enter additional information based on documentation he or she would present to an employer during the Form I–9 process, which could include: citizenship status; Alien Number (if non-citizen); passport number; Form I– 94 number; and/or lawful permanent resident card or work authorization document (EAD) number. If the information provided matches information contained in federal databases (Social Security Administration, DHS, Department of State), ‘‘work authorization confirmed’’ will be displayed. However, if the information does not match, the screen will display “Possible mismatch with SSA/Immigration Information” and provide the user information on how to request correction of potential errors in database records.
If a mismatch occurs and the individual opts not to resolve it, E-Verify will close the case. However, if the user wants to resolve a Social Security mismatch, a form will be generated and detailed instructions provided on how to resolve the mismatch. For an immigration information mismatch, the program provides instructions on contacting E-Verify customer service to resolve the matter; contact must be made within 72 hours of the initial query. If the representative is unable to correct the record, the individual will be advised of further actions necessary to correct the error.
Establishing Work Authorization Without Identity Confirmation
If an individual is unable to authenticate through the IdP but wants to determine work authorization status prior to hire, USCIS will provide information on how to visit a Social Security Administration field office, access Social Security yearly statements, call USCIS, or submit a Freedom of Information Act/ Privacy Act request to access work authorization records. The individual will also be advised to check the information at the various credit bureaus and through a free credit check website.