U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently released the results of the most recent Westat Survey conducted on the accuracy of E-Verify, providing “further validation that E-Verify is an accurate and robust tool.” Though the survey was completed in July 2012, the results are finally being released to the public a year later. You can now access the five-page summary and the full 145-page report online.
Westat conducted the accuracy survey on E-Verify by evaluating the E-Verify Transaction Database. It’s worth highlighting that employer activity while logged into the E-Verify system is tracked and monitored by USCIS. With millions of E-Verify transactions from which to evaluate, the survey results provide a lot of insights.
Westat also reviewed a myriad of primary sources:
- Interviews with federal staff and contractors.
- Document reviews.
- Internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) manuals on E-Verify.
- Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel (OSC) logs.
- Documentation on operations, databases and systems for Customs and Border Protection, the Social Security Administration (SSA), and the Department of State.
E-Verify accuracy is improving since the last survey released in 2009, which evaluated the tentative nonconfirmation (TNC) rates. The TNC rate in this report declined from 0.7 percent to 0.3 percent.
Where a secondary review of a TNC is conducted by USCIS, the accuracy rate is 90 percent effective compared to a 58 percent effective rate in the absence of secondary reviews.
Lag time in being able to enter data in E-Verify affects the quality of E-Verify verifications.
Employers who fail to properly notify their employees about TNCs lower the E-Verify accuracy rate of what should otherwise be a 99 percent rate.
Top four causes of TNCs:
- Citizenship status nonconfirmation from Form I-9 (35 percent).
- SSA name mismatch (33 percent).
- Inability to identify Form I-94 number (7 percent).
- USCIS name mismatch (5 percent).
Federal forms that fail to accommodate long names contribute to E-Verify mismatches and erroneous TNCs.
When SSA and DHS records do not share “common identifiers,” erroneous TNCs may result.
A substantial portion of the survey was devoted to providing USCIS with recommendations on how to increase E-Verify’s accuracy moving forward, and other recommendations that would streamline the employment eligibility verification process. Notice that some of the recommendations offered by Westat below have been implemented by USCIS, which potentially explains why this survey, completed in July of 2012, wasn’t made publicly available until July 2013.
The federal government should notify workers about TNCs. Interesting that USCIS actually rolled out this new feature in E-Verify effective July 1, 2013. You can read about the details of that new feature here.
Allow workers who attest to being U.S. citizens to provide additional documentation, prior to a TNC, to assist in locating their DHS records. USCIS’ response to this recommendation is that workers already may present this data when completing the Form I-9. Yet, it doesn’t seem to resolve the issue of how employers should respond to instances where workers present additional documentation, after the Form I-9 has been processed, to help prevent a TNC. If the data is available, must the employer reject that data if it wasn’t presented during the completing of the Form I-9? This will be an interesting issue for USCIS to resolve.
Provide a “provisional authorization” in E-Verify for workers whose I-94 records cannot be located. After a certain period of time, reverification would be required. Currently, USCIS is working on integrating the electronic I-94 data into E-Verify. The Arrival and Departure Information System (ADIS) was linked in 2012 to the E-Verify database. We’ve yet to see how the accuracy rates evolve on this issue.
Workers that fall into the J-1, F-1 and nonimmigrant categories should be given “conditionally employment authorized” status because their work status is specific to one employer. USCIS will consider this option in the future.
Other federal agencies with immigration responsibilities should revise their forms to incorporate data fields that are utilized in the E-Verify system. At the risk of sounding daft, hopefully this should be an easy fix for the government.
Provide a structured rule for how names should be compared in the E-Verify Transaction Database. This would lift some of the burden off of employers. USCIS will evaluate how names are captured between USCIS and SSA databases to determine if there can be a systematic name-matching approach.
With these new(ish) recommendations from Westat, I’m eager to see how the Form I-9 will evolve to accommodate an increasingly more accurate E-Verify database.
Ann Cun is an immigration attorney, counsel and principal editor for LawLogix Group, an I-9, E-Verify and immigration case management solutions provider.
Republished with permission. © 2013 LawLogix Group. All rights reserved.
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