E-Verify Scores High in User Satisfaction

Tentative nonconfirmations get lowest marks; SHRM questions photo-matching

By Roy Maurer Oct 26, 2015
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The E-Verify system garnered an 87 on a 100-point scale for overall satisfaction from users in 2014, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced.

Users’ satisfaction with the federal government’s electronic employment eligibility verification system increased 1 point over the previous two years and was 23 points above the average satisfaction rate for government programs, according to the annual customer satisfaction survey. The survey was conducted during the fall of 2014, with 3,377 users responding.

“USCIS has made substantial improvements and enhancements to the program to assist employers and prevent errors affecting authorized workers,” said Julie Myers Wood, CEO of investigative and compliance consultancy Guidepost Solutions and former head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The individual responsible for overseeing the E-Verify program is understandably proud of its rating among users. “I believe this is the result of our ‘customer first’ approach to service,” said Howard McMillan, chief of the USCIS Verification Division.

McMillan explained that his team:

  • Upgraded the user interface to E-Verify, making it easier to navigate and less likely for users to make keystroke errors.
  • Increased the number of communication channels whereby users receive guidance and updated information.
  • Incorporated new technology to the customer call center to better serve customer needs.

“To a certain degree, I think the high satisfaction scores are to be expected, especially since the survey focused on organizations that have been using E-Verify for quite some time,” said John Fay, vice president and general counsel at LawLogix, a software company specializing in cloud-based immigration and compliance solutions.

“Like many government systems, E-Verify tends to get a bit easier once the organization has worked out all of the kinks in their own process,” Fay said. “It’s also important to note that large companies accounted for only 7 percent of responses, and so it’s possible you may hear a very different story from the corporate HR manager who has to roll out a brand-new process to multiple locations.”

The random sample of employers was comprised of new enrollees (403) and those that have used E-Verify since January 2012 (2,974). New enrollees rated E-Verify an 86 on the customer satisfaction scale.

The survey measured the following satisfaction drivers:

  • Registration and tutorial (for new enrollees). Survey results showed that new enrollees rated both registration (87) and the tutorial (87) highly.
  • Using E-Verify. Both new and existing users rated using the program very highly at 91.
  • Tentative nonconfirmation (TNC) resolutions.
  • Photo-matching.

Doubts Remain About Photo-Matching

The photo-matching process is the highest-rated aspect for both new enrollees (94) and existing users (95). Employers agreed that the process—in which HR visually verifies that the photo displayed in E-Verify is identical to the photo on the document that the employee presented for section 2 of the Form I-9—is easy and helps to prevent fraud.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), however, believes the photo tool, “unfortunately, is not the solution to the issue of identity theft to gain work authorization through the system,” said Mike Aitken, SHRM’s vice president of government affairs. “Employers must be provided with identity authentication technology so they can be certain that they are hiring a legal workforce, and SHRM and its affiliate the Council for Global Immigration are encouraging Congress to embrace tools that will help combat identity theft.”

Fay also believes that document fraud “with driver’s licenses and Social Security cards in particular” continues to be the Achilles’ heel for the E-Verify program. “I think we can all agree that matching a photo on a screen to a photo on a document is fairly easy, especially when the vast majority of cases involve U.S. citizens with passports,” he said. “The larger question is whether the absence of a photo-matching process for other documents impairs E-Verify’s ability to do what it sets out to do—detect and prevent unauthorized employment. As long as that loophole remains, there will always be a portion of employers who simply won’t invest the time and effort to use a system which may not be 100-percent reliable.”

TNC Process Lowest Rated

The TNC process is definitely the “make or break” for most organizations when it comes to evaluating E-Verify, Fay said. Twenty percent of new enrollees and 17 percent of existing users received a TNC in the previous six months before the survey’s completion date. TNC resolution scored 81 among new users and 82 among existing users, the lowest-rated aspect of the system surveyed.

“I suppose it’s not surprising that it is lower than scores for our other features,” McMillan said. “After all, no one wants what looks like a snag in the process, no matter how rarely they occur.” McMillan explained that most E-Verify queries result in an employment-authorized result immediately. Less than 2 percent of the more than 27.9 million E-Verify case queries in 2014 resulted in a TNC, he said.

Employers and employees responding to TNCs may find the process difficult, even when the E-Verify system is working correctly, Wood said. “This makes sense given that some TNCs involve individuals who are not authorized to work in the U.S. The agency should continue to refine the TNC process, making new improvements to refine false positives and prevent identity fraud,” she said.

Employers with frequent TNCs rarely speak well of the process, according to Fay. This is primarily “because it involves reading long forms, following mandatory steps and adhering to timelines which are often hard to meet, let alone explain to a new-hire employee.”

If you only receive one or two TNCs every few months, you might feel inconvenienced, Fay said. “But if you have frequent employee turnover or employ a large foreign-born population, the TNC process can be a real bottleneck and source of frustration for work-authorized individuals.”

McMillan said that USCIS is committed to improving the TNC process.

“We are pleased that since 2009, the first year E-Verify participated in the American Customer Satisfaction Survey, the overall TNC score has increased from 72 to 82,” he said.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM. Follow him @SHRMRoy

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