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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Feb. 9 expanded throughout the entire country its E-Verify “Self Check” program, which allows job seekers to check their own employment eligibility status before seeking employment.
“We are pleased to complete, ahead of schedule, our expansion of this important tool for employees,” USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas said Feb. 9. “Since our initial launch in March, approximately 67,000 people have used Self Check and we anticipate that participation will dramatically increase with service now available to individuals across the country.”
Self Check, available in both English and Spanish, allows individuals to see if there is a mismatch in their employment eligibility information from both the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration, Mayorkas said, and provides instructions on how to correct errors.
The Obama administration Feb. 13 released its fiscal year 2013 budget request that includes $111.9 million for E-Verify, a 9.3 percent increase over the $102.4 million requested for FY 2012. The boost is intended to support E-Verify's Self Check program.
The program originally was launched in March 2011 in five states—Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, and Virginia—plus the District of Columbia (29 HRR 319, 3/28/11). It later was expanded to California, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Washington (29 HRR 904, 8/22/11).
As of Feb. 9, the program now is available to job seekers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands, USCIS said.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) praised the expansion ahead of the launch date. “It is good for American workers that E-Verify continues to be expanded and improved. …This will help U.S. workers make sure that their records are accurate so that they will have no problem getting a job if the employer uses E-Verify,” he said Feb. 3.
At the same time, Smith reiterated his call for mandatory E-Verify use by all U.S. employers, urging passage of the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 2885), which would impose such a requirement. The bill was passed by the Smith's committee Sept. 21 (29 HRR 1028, 9/26/11).
Greg Francis, a program and management analyst at USCIS, said some states do mandate E-Verify, and employers are using E-Verify with increasing frequency; in 2011, employers ran 17 million cases through the system.
However, he stressed, “Self Check is completely voluntary,”and employers cannot require applicants and employees to use the program, to provide them with the results, or use the results against them.
By the same token, employers should discard Self Check results that employees and applicants bring to them because they still will need to perform their own employment eligibility verification, Francis said.
Yvette LaGonterie, chief of outreach at USCIS's Verification Division, said the agency's goal is to have every worker in the United States know about Self Check, especially job seekers whose employment eligibility will be verified by an employer either through the Form I-9 process or E-Verify.
“We are creating a whole set of creative materials that we are going to be distributing widely to inform people about the service,”LaGonterie said.
Additional information on self-check is available at http://www.uscis.gov/selfcheck.
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