Over the weekend (December 8-9, 2012), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) installed updates to the E-Verify system. Something seems to have gone awry as our clients, around the country, have reported irregularities with processing E-Verify queries since early yesterday morning. E-Verify is a web-based, voluntary program that compares an employee’s Form I-9 information with the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security databases. E-Verify is considered a best practice by the government in terms of immigration compliance and is part of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s IMAGE program. Over the past four years, the E-Verify program has expanded tremendously and become more intuitive and notably easier for employers to use. E-Verify has refined the speed in which it processes queries and has become infinitely more accurate. The program has benefited from an enormous amount of funding directed at improving the quality of resources available to employees and employers, as well as increasing the frequency and accessibility of training provided by USCIS. The Department of Justice’s Office of Special Counsel also has stepped up to offer a suite of resources including role-play videos and targeted E-Verify “Do’s and Don’ts”. While still susceptible to identity theft, the program continues to be upgraded and includes a photomatching component for U.S. Passports, Permanent Resident Cards, and Employment Authorization Cards. The decision to enroll in E-Verify should not be made lightly and includes planning and compliance. While the program is “free” significant resources should be dedicated to its implementation and ongoing monitoring.
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