An extension of the online US visa self check system means that prospective workers can now check their status for potentially inaccurate immigration records before formally seeking employment.

The new E-Verify Self Check from the Department of Homeland Security is aimed at limiting bureaucratic mix-ups. The programme is an extension of E-Verify, an electronic system that almost 250,000 companies rely on to ensure that new employees have the correct visa or the right to work in the US.

It uses the personal information workers provide online to identify typographical errors and outdated information, such as name changes, in federal records that might incorrectly flag a worker as illegal.

‘E-Verify is a smart, simple, and effective tool that allows us to work with employers to help them maintain a legal workforce. The E-Verify Self Check service will help protect workers and streamline the E-Verify process for businesses,’ said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

E-Verify Self Check, a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA), is the first online E-Verify program offered directly to workers and job seekers.

‘This voluntary, free, fast and secure service gives users the opportunity to submit corrections of any inaccuracies in their DHS and SSA records before applying for jobs, allowing workers to better protect themselves from potential workplace discrimination that could result from an employer's abuse of the E-Verify system,’ added Napolitano.

The development of E-Verify Self Check reflects a commitment to the continual improvement of the E-Verify programme, according to USCIS director Alejandro Mayorkas.

The E-Verify Self Check process consists of four steps: users enter identifying information online such as name, date of birth and address; users confirm their identity by answering demographic and/or financial questions generated by a third party identity assurance service; users enter work eligibility information such as a Social Security number and, depending on citizenship status, an Alien Registration number; and E-Verify Self Check checks users' information against relevant SSA and DHS databases and returns information on users' employment eligibility status.

The department confirmed that the E-Verify Self Check process is designed to secure users' personally identifiable information and to prevent misuse of the service. Additionally, information that users provide to E-Verify Self Check and the results of an E-Verify Self Check are not shared with users' employers or prospective employers.

There has been a lot of criticism of the system for have inaccuracies. Now people can use the self-check system to flag up problems in advance and get them corrected.
New workers identified by E-Verify as potentially ineligible have eight business days to resolve the problem.

Initially only residents of the states of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Mississippi, Virginia and the District of Columbia will be able to use the service, but the programme will be expanded nationwide in the next 12 months.