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By: Kelly Eisenlohr-Moul
Recently, United States Customs and Immigration Enforcement Services (USCIS) announced several updates to its E-Verify system. USCIS has indicated that the upcoming changes are an attempt to address criticism regarding security loopholes and lack of user friendliness.
Initially, E-Verify now has the ability to automatically lock social security numbers (SSNs) which are flagged as “misused.” This feature targets the long-running criticism that E-Verify fails to address identity fraud involving borrowed, stolen, or purchased SSNs. The technology is similar to that used by credit card companies and banks in identifying fraudulent account activity. If a “locked” SSN is entered into the E-Verify system, the user will receive a Tentative Non-Confirmation (TNC) and will be referred to the local Social Security Administration office for follow-up.
USCIS also is attempting to improve user friendliness by simplifying the contract terms governing E-Verify use. Specifically, the Memorandum of Agreement signed by all employers upon enrolling in E-Verify has been revamped to include plainer language, a clearer organizational structure, and instructions for reporting any privacy or security breaches.
Although the MOU has been in effect since E-Verify was launched in 1997, it has been treated much like a form credit card or iTunes user agreement, which few employers bother to read or understand before beginning to use E-Verify. This can have serious consequences if the employer is later accused of document fraud or abuse, and is presumed to have knowledge of the terms agreed upon in the MOU. The simplified version, due to be implemented on December 8, aims to foster a better understanding of the terms governing the relationship.
USCIS also has announced new, simplified E-Verify posters for the workplace. It is mandatory that employers using E-Verify display these posters, although USCIS has stated that either the old or new version is acceptable.
Given the dramatic uptick in E-Verify usage due to state regulation, employers should expect E-Verify to continue evolving throughout the coming year.