USCIS Introduces New U.S. Passport Photo Matching For E-Verify

On October 4, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") hosted a webinar for employers to introduce the latest improvement to the E-Verify system, the addition of U.S. Passports and Passport Cards (collectively, "Passports," and individually, a "Passport") to the photo-matching process.

 

Photo matching is a feature of E-Verify that allows an employer to compare a newly hired employee's Employer Authorization Document ("EAD") or Permanent Resident Card ("Green Card") to the image of the card stored in the database of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security ("DHS"). However, this feature may be used only after: (i) the employee has attested to being a lawful permanent resident and/or authorized to work in the United States; (ii) the employee presents a newer version of a Green Card or EAD at his or her own initiative; (iii) E-Verify has confirmed the employee's employment eligibility; and (iv) any Tentative Nonconfirmations ("TNC") from the Social Security Administration or USCIS have been resolved. The present photo-matching process does not currently have the capability to verify the authenticity of older green cards, older EAD cards, or any of the other identification documents that an employee may present when completing the I-9 process.

 

Although part of E-Verify's overall photo-matching process, the photo-matching process for Passports has some key differences compared to the photo-matching process used for Forms I-751 (Green Cards) and I-766 (EADs). For example, one difference involves when to display a TNC case result. With the photo-matching process for Passports, if the employee presenting a Passport receives a TNC before the photo-matching step and then resolves the TNC, E-Verify will require the employer to complete the photo-matching step before displaying a case result. In the photo-matching process for Green Cards or EADs, if the employee presenting a Passport receives a TNC before the photo-matching step and then resolves it, the employer must display the case result immediately before moving forward with the photo-matching step. Additionally, it is very possible that E-Verify may not be able to access the employee's photo during the photo-matching process. If this occurs during the Green Card or EAD photo-matching process, the system will simply bypass the photo-matching screen altogether. However, during the Passport photo-matching process, the system will provide a "No Photo on this Document" message and employers must proceed with the process.

 

Another interesting difference is that, when photo matching Green Cards or EADs, E-Verify will display a thumbnail photo when viewing the case details. This, however, is not the case for Passports because the USCIS is not able to store Passport photos. Yet, E-Verify will display a thumbnail photo that an employer may attach and submit when referring a photo mismatch TNC to DHS. E-Verify will display this thumbnail photo whether the document is a Green Card, an EAD, or a Passport.

 

As of April 3, 2009, for employment verification (Form I-9) purposes, employees must present an unexpired Passport. E-Verify will now enforce this rule by looking to determine if the "hire date" is on or after April 3, 2009. If the hire date is before April 3, 2009, the system will accept an expired Passport (good news for federal contractors needing to submit older I-9 forms showing valid passports at the time). If the hire date, however, is on or after April 3, 2009, an error message will appear and the case will be automatically discontinued. The employer's only option is to create a new E-Verify case.

U.S. Nebraska Service Center Will Assist with Employment Authorization Documents Errors

Members of AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) are reporting errors in EADs (Employment Authorization Documents) cards, including the following: 1) Incorrect country of birth, date of birth, gender or spelling of name. 2) Clearly incorrect validity dates. Please note that EADs approved at the NSC USCIS Nebraska Service Center) under the "express" adjudication system are approved as of the date of adjudication, whether it is an initial EAD or an extension. An example of a clearly incorrect validity date is an EAD approved on 07/09/2008 bearing validity dates from 01/01/2008 to 01/01/2009. 3) Approval for one year of validity, when the applicant clearly qualifies for two years (please review USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) updates and AILA postings to make sure the applicant qualifies). 4) Switched photos, i.e. husband's card has wife's photo and vice versa or a completely different person. If any of the above situations apply, please follow the instructions to submit an inquiry for individual case liaison assistance. You may ignore the instruction to first call the 1-800 customer service line at NCSC (National Customer Service Center) when submitting requests for EAD correction. To minimize delays, please describe the nature of the error as clearly as possible when submitting your request. Your liaison request will be forwarded to an NSC liaison committee member, who will review it and respond to you with instructions for obtaining the corrected EAD. IMPORTANT NOTE: individuals will be required to submit the incorrect EAD card in the original to the NSC in order to receive a corrected EAD card. Merely requesting a corrected card either by telephone or in writing will not be effective. Therefore, where necessary please ensure that the applicant provides the EAD to his or her employer for I-9 purposes prior to sending it in for correction. No new photos should be required, except in the circumstance of switched photos.

AILA-USCIS Update on Two-Year EAD Processing

The American Immigration Lawyers Association ("AILA") recently stated that "USCIS had previously announced that they would begin to issue 2-year EAD cards for some adjustment applicants under 8 C.F.R. §274a.12(c)(9). USCIS has provided AILA liaison with additional clarifications regarding eligibility for the 2-year card: 1)USCIS will review the issue of visa retrogression at the time the I-765 application is filed. However, if the priority date is current as of the date of filing, but later retrogresses while the I-765 application is pending, USCIS has the discretion to review the case again and issue the 2-year EAD. If the priority date is backlogged as of the date of filing, but later becomes current while the I-765 is pending, USCIS also has the discretion to review the case again and issue a 1-year EAD, and  2) in order to be eligible for a 2-year EAD card on a concurrently-filed adjustment of status application, the I-140 petition must be approved. If the I-140 is still pending, USCIS will only issue a 1-year EAD card." More clarifications on this subject coming up.  I will keep you posted.

USCIS to Issue Two-Year Employment Authorization Documents

On June 12, 2008, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that beginning on June 30, 2008 will issue Employment Authorization Documents (“EAD”) valid for two years. The new two-year EAD will only be available for individuals who have filed to become a lawful permanent resident (“LPR”) using a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and filed for employment authorization under Section 274.a.12(c)(9) of Title 8, Code of Federal Regulations (“8 C.F.R.”) but are unable to become an LPR because an immigrant visa number is not currently available. USCIS will also decide whether to renew an EAD for either a one or two year validity period based on the most recent Department of State Visa Bulletin.

Applicants who have an available immigrant visa number and who are filing for employment authorization under 8 C.F.R. Section 274.a.12(c)(9), USCIS will continue to grant EADs that are valid for one-year. USCIS may issue a two-year renewal EAD if the applicant’s immigrant visa availability date retrogresses (when actual demand for visa numbers exceeds forecasted supply) after the Form I-485 is filed. If an individual requests to replace an EAD that has not expired, USCIS will issue a replacement EAD that is valid through the same date as the previously issued EAD. However, if the previous EAD has expired, USCIS will process the request for a renewal EAD and determine the appropriate validity period based on the applicant’s priority date and the Department of State Visa Bulletin.