With the increased focus on terrorism and the need for enhanced internal security, clients have become even more aware or the importance of checking the validity of the INS documents applicants present. Producing counterfeit documents and stealing legitimate documents for alteration has become big business. While falsified documents are becoming increasingly difficult to detect, the potential costs of hiring illegal workers has increased dramatically as the result of September 11. But your risk goes beyond the potential to hire a terrorist. Criminals such as child molestors and other felons often falsify their identity or work eligibility to gain access to children or other assets. Expertise in verifying work eligibility has become a required skill for Human Resource and security managers alike.
Document counterfeiting is an art and the organized crime rings engaged in this activity have perfected their craft. This is one reason why detecting counterfeit INS or other documents has become extremely difficult. In some cases documents are produced on stolen, official stock. Notwithstanding, employers should be aware of these basic detection points:
1) Determine whether the information on the document pertains to the individual presenting the document (if the person appears to be 18 and the identification says 40, there is a problem; if a man presents the document with a woman’s picture, there is also a problem). Look for discrepancies between the information depicted on the documents and the information provided on the employment application.
2)Look for alterations as evidenced by erasures, photograph substitutions, etc. Official documents are never altered, they are replaced.
3) Check to be sure the document is squarely cut.
4) Determine that the printing and engraving is parallel with the edges of the document in addition to being sharp, clear, and unbroken.
Being alert to questionable documents and falsifications on the employment application is only the first step toward hiring safely. There are a number of reasonable, no cost or low cost measures available wich allow employers to screen out illegal workers. In fact, the use of some of these measures is absolutely necessary. Your employment screening agency will be able to advise you which of these measures are appropriate for you.
1) The "SAVE" program, an official ICE initiative, allows employers that conduct business in certain high risk states to immediately determine the eligibility of those they hire. Employers can participate in SAVE themselves, or through an authorized employment screening agency. Applicants are screened through the Social Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.
2) Ask your employment screening agency to run a Social Security Number Verification as part of your routine pre-employment screening program. This search will give you a 7 year residence history for your applicant. In many cases this is enough to detect documentation discrepancies. Additionally, this search will help your employment screening agency determine where to conduct court record searches. This search will help identify purchased, stolen or shared SSN's.
3) Verify the Social Security Number through the Social Security Administration after the employee has begun work. If the name and date of birth provided by the employee does not match the Social Security Administration records, a problem most likely exists.
4) Employers can verify work eligibility status by completing INS form G845. Complete instructions for the use of this form can be obtained at http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/index.htm. This process is free. Please beware of official looking web sites that charge fees of up to $20.00 to file this form. These sites may appear to be government sites but they are not. Get your information from the aforementioned government site only. Legitimate background screening agencies may charge a small processing fee to file this form on your behalf if you do not have the administrative capability to do so. Ask you employment screening agency to assist if needed.
Remember, contact the local INS Office of Investigations to verify the document number before denying anyone employment based upon documents you suspect to be bogus. Know and follow INS regulations for verifying employment eligibility. If you need further support call your local INS office or the INS National Customer Service Center at 202-514-2000.