DHS boosts E-Verify with links to passport photo database

New program will check passport photos for 10 percent of E-Verify applicants

The Homeland Security Department has begun a program that links its E-Verify employment verification system to the State Department’s passport database to verify the authenticity of passport photos presented as proof of identity.

E-Verify is a system jointly operated by DHS and the Social Security Administration. Employers submit prospective employees’ Social Security numbers to verify the employees’ eligibility to work. If there is a match, the employee is deemed eligible. If there is no match, there are detailed procedures for adjudication.

For the 10 percent of the prospective employees who provide U.S. passports or U.S. passport cards as proof of their identity, E-Verify will now scan the passport photo to determine if it matches the photo on record at State, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Nov. 10.

Related stories:

E-Verify fails to catch half of unauthorized workers, study reveals

E-Verify could add biometrics

"Including U.S. passport photo matching in E-Verify will enhance our ability to detect counterfeit documents and combat fraud,” Napolitano said in a statement.

Photo matching is not new to E-Verify. Since 2007, the system has provided photo-matching capabilities for prospective employees who present employment authorization documents or permanent resident cards as proof of identity and work authorization with Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

About 230,000 employers use E-Verify, which became mandatory for most federal contractors in 2009. However, critics have said that E-Verify is not effective in identifying fraudulent use of Social Security numbers.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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