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USCIS Plans to Expand Its “Self Check” Program Nationwide

1280072_73127582_12212011.jpgThe U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) launched the Self Check program on March 21, 2011, as part of its E-Verify system. E-Verify allows employers to access databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to compare information provided by employees on Form I-9. This offers employers a relatively quick way to verify an employee’s eligibility for employment.

E-Verify, unfortunately, sometimes yields inaccurate or incorrect results, as database entries may be out of date or mistaken. Partly to remedy this problem, USCIS added Self Check to the E-Verify system. Self Check allows employees and job applicants themselves to access federal databases to confirm their own eligibility for employment. It launched the program in March in five states and the District of Columbia. The program is now available in twenty-one states, and USCIS estimates that over 50,000 users have accessed the system so far.

USCIS has now announced plans to expand the availability of the program to the whole country within several months. It is requesting feedback from users, asking people to explain why they used the service and to offer any observations or suggestions they may have.

The main benefit of Self Check to employees is the opportunity to learn what information about them is available to employers, and to correct inaccuracies or inconsistencies in federal databases. The databases used in E-Verify also play a role in other parts of the immigration system. Incorrect information can have potentially dire consequences for immigrants and citizens alike, from an erroneous finding that a person lacks employment authorization to a conclusion that a person is an undocumented immigrant. Self Check reportedly not only allows people to see what information is accessible to employers, it also provides people with instructions for correcting information in DHS and SSA databases.

People access the Self Check system online by providing some personal information for identification purposes, such as a name or address. Third-party information security providers may require users to answer follow-up questions to verify their identity, similar to the procedure used by online credit report services. Users then enter identifying information used in employment, typically a social security number or Alien Registration Number. Self Check compares this information against the relevant DHS and SSA databases. If the system cannot find records for the person, or if the user finds errors, the user may obtain contact information to notify DHS and SSA of the problems. The exact procedure for rectifying inaccuracies is not stated in the Self Check materials put out by USCIS, but this puts users much closer to a solution than before.

Self Check is, by and large, an untested service and technology. It promises to help people resolve a huge problem in the immigration system, that being the reliance of immigration authorities on possibly inaccurate information. Hopefully it will prove to be a useful service and will provide relief to people where they had none before.

The New Jersey immigration lawyers at Samuel C. Berger, PC help immigrants seeking work visas, investor visas, and other ways to come to, or remain in, the United States. To schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys today, contact us online or at (201) 587-9200.

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