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04:01 PM

DHS Introduces E-Verify Self Check

People can now check their own employment eligibility status with the Dept. of Homeland Security database online and correct any inaccuracies.

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People can now check their own employment eligibility status via a new online feature of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS's) E-Verify system.

E-Verify is a Web-based system employers use to compare information from a person's I-9 employment form to DHS and Social Security Administration (SSA) records to confirm that person's eligibility to work legally in the United States. It is mainly used to verify the employment status of immigrants.

The DHS on Tuesday outfitted the system with E-Verify Self Check, which allows users who have an address and live in Arizona, Idaho, Colorado, Mississippi, Virginia, or the District of Columbia to check their own employment eligibility status rather than wait for a potential employer to let them know. The DHS plans to expand the use of the system across the country in phases, it said.

While employers still must verify people's eligibility for them to obtain employment, the new feature gives people a chance to correct any inaccuracies in DHS or SSA records before applying for jobs.

The E-Verify system has been criticized in the past for inaccuracies and the new self-check feature is aimed at helping to mitigate those problems. A report by the Government Accountability Office released in February 2010 found that the system inaccurately identified workers unauthorized for employment as authorized more than half of the time, among other issues.

The Self Check feature also should help workers better protect themselves against any potential workplace discrimination due to an employer's abuse of the system, according to the DHS.

To use E-Verify Self Check, people must enter identification information online and then confirm their identify via a third-party service by answering a question about demographics or their personal finances.

Once they are authenticated, people then either enter either a Social Security number or an Alien Registration number that the system then checks against SSA and DHS databases to provide them with their employment eligibility status, according to the DHS.

The Self Check system also provides users with alternatives to finding their employment status if the system can't verify them, offering instructions in both English and Spanish on how to resolve a potential data mismatch or error in SSA or DHS records.

Self Check also is not the only way someone can confirm his or her employment eligibility or correct government records, according to the DHS. They also can find out their status from an employer that checks E-Verify or request a Social Security Statement from the SSA.

More than 225,000 employers in the United States are currently using E-Verify, with about 1,000 new businesses signing up each week, according to the DHS E-Verify Web site. The initial pilot of the system that would become E-Verify was launched in 1999; in 2004 the system went online and in 2007 it was given its current name.

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