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.

Hilton In Naples, FL Signs Up For The IMAGE Program

 

On May 26, 2010, the Hilton Naples signed an agreement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to participate in the voluntary IMAGE program. This is the first company in the city of Naples, Florida to sign up for the IMAGE program. IMAGE, or ICE Mutual Agreement between Government and Employers, is a government initiative designed to improve employer self-compliance. Employers participating in IMAGE must submit first to a Form I-9 audit by ICE and verify all of their employees' social security numbers through the Social Security Number Verification System (SSNVS). Employers are also obligated to  sign up for E-Verify, conduct I-9 audits semiannually using a neutral party, ensure that only trained employees complete Form I-9 and use E-Verify, set protocols for responding to no-match letters, and much more. Employers using E-Verify must sign a Memorandum of Understanding or MOU which requires them to allow ICE (DHS) and SSA or their authorized agents or designees to "make periodic visits" to the employer.

IMAGE is NOT a “safe harbor” for employers. ICE has not indicated that IMAGE “partners” will not be subject to enforcement actions. Moreover, E-Verify participants have been subject to worksite enforcement actions. Given ICE’s inspection powers under IMAGE an employer should seriously consider the consequences of implementing these practices.

USCIS Announces Extension of Form I-9

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") announced on August 27, 2009, that the federal Office of Management and Budget has approved an extension of the current Form I-9 to August 31, 2012.  As a result, the USCIS has amended the Form I-9 to reflect an updated revision date of August 7, 2009.  This revision date appears in the lower right hand corner of the form. The USCIS has indicated that employers may use the Form I-9 with a revision date of either February 2, 2009 (the prior revision date) or August 7, 2009 (the current revision date).  The Form I-9 is available at the following web site: www.uscis.gov/i-9

USCIS Delays Implementation of Interim Final Rule on Documents Acceptable for Employment Verification

On January 30, 2009, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS")announced that the effective date of the new Form I-9 (Employment Verification Form) has been delayed for 60 days, until April 3, 2009.

The new Form I-9 was scheduled to take effect on February 2, 2009. The comment period on the new form now runs until March 4, 2009. The temporary extension is designed to provide the DHS with an opportunity to further consider the interim final rule: “Documents Acceptable for Employment Verification” which was published by the USCIS on December 17, 2008. The USCIS has also announced that the old Form I-9 should continue to be used until at least March 4, 2009.

All employers and HR personnel should take note.  Once in effect, old versions of the form cannot be used.

USCIS INFORMS THE PUBLIC THAT NEW PASSPORT CARD IS ACCEPTABLE FOR EMPLOYMENT ELIGIBILITY VERIFICATION

On August 8, 2008, USCIS issued a statement informing the public that the new U.S. Passport Card may be used in the Employment Eligibility Verification form (I-9) process. USCIS also stated that "...last month, the Departments of State and Homeland Security announced that the new passport card was in full production. The new card provides a less expensive and more portable alternative to the traditional passport book, and will expedite document processing at United States land and sea ports-of-entry for U.S. citizens traveling to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. While the new card is more limited in its uses for international travel (e.g., it may not be used for international air travel), it is a valid passport that attests to the U.S. citizenship and identity of the bearer. Accordingly, the card may be used for the Form I-9 process and can also be accepted by employers participating in the E-Verify program." USCIS states that the passport card is considered a “List A” document that may be presented by newly hired employees during the employment eligibility verification process to show work authorized status. “List A” documents are those used by employees to prove both identity and work authorization when completing the Form I-9.