Administration praises E-Verify, SHRM raises questionsNews added by Benefits Pro on February 3, 2014

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By Dan Cook

The federal government has a program that works, and perhaps more impressively, businesses support it, at least to a point.

That program is E-Verify, the primarily voluntary electronic verification service hosted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Kicked off in 1996, it’s a system for verifying that a person with a valid Social Security number is eligible for employment in the U.S. It’s used mostly to verify that an immigrant is OK to hire.

The USCIS proudly proclaimed that it recently surpassed 500,000 employer/customers, and that E-Verify been used 25 million times.

“Since it was established, E-Verify has experienced exponential growth, increased accuracy and high customer-satisfaction ratings,” said USCIS Acting Director Lori Scialabba. “Participation in E-Verify is largely voluntary, so the fact that half a million companies have signed up demonstrates significant confidence in the program. Employers using E-Verify find it helps them maintain a legal workforce in a quick, secure and accurate way.”

How much do users like it? When the USCIS did a survey of 1,300 randomly selected users, 86 percent rated it “exceptionally high.” In a rather non-collegial addendum to that number, the USCIS claimed that most other government agencies have an average customer satisfaction score of 67 out of 100.

But changes may be coming. USCIS, with the help of pals in Congress, wants to make E-Verify a required step that employers take before hiring someone. The plan is to use legislation to phase it in as a required service.

Meantime, the Society for Human Resources Management and other groups think E-Verify is a bit loosey-goosey when it comes to preventing identity theft.

According to SHRM, “The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the Council for Global Immigration are advocating for a single ‘reliable and secure’ verification system that pre-empts state laws and uses identity-authentication tools, such as knowledge-based authentication, to protect against identity theft so that businesses can confidently hire work-authorized employees.”

Said Mike Aitken, SHRM vice president for government affairs: “The current E-Verify program can be defeated by identity theft. While E-Verify can confirm that the documents presented by a job applicant are real, it cannot confirm that the prospective employee is the person who owns that identity. This leaves the door open for unauthorized individuals to use impostor identities to gain verification of work authorization.”

With such changes in the wind, will E-Verify still be the government’s poster child for a successful program? Stay tuned …

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