Illegal immigration is a major concern in the US, especially as it concerns undocumented workers. Employers have a major responsibility in ensuring that they do not hire undocumented workers, but in the past it has been difficult for employers to tell which workers were authorized to work in the US and which were not. Employment verification pilot programs developed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA) give participating employers the resources to tell which potential employees are documented and authorized to work in the US and which are not.
There are three employment verification pilot programs available to employers: the Basic Pilot, the Machine-Readable Document Pilot, and the Citizen Attestation Pilot. In the Basic Pilot program, SSA and DHS databases are checked for verification of employment authorization using an automated system. Under this program, all newly hired employees are checked for employment authorization This program makes it easier for employers to review authorization without puzzling over Form I-9 reviews.
The Citizen Attestation Pilot program is similar to the Basic Pilot program in that the same electronic and automatic verification system is used to check the employment authorization of newly hired employees. However, in the Citizen Attestation Pilot program, only foreign employees are tested for employment authorization. The Machine-Readable Document Pilot program is similar to the Basic Pilot program except that it has an additional feature. In cases where an employee eligible for employment authorization verification presents their employer with a machine-readable card with an SSN number (such as a driver’s license), as part of the program the employer is required to check the card through the SSA.
In most cases, participation in these pilot programs is voluntary and employers can elect to take part by filing Form I-876 (Election Form to Participate in Employment Eligibility Confirmation Pilot Programs). Employers can file Form I876 to participate in any one of the three pilot programs, but filing I 876 is only considered an expression of interest. It does not guarantee that an employer will be chosen for a pilot program and it does not obligate the employer to take part in a pilot program if chosen to participate. USCIS Form I-876 (Election Form to Participate in Employment Eligibility Confirmation Pilot Programs) does not require any filing fees and is only a short one-page application. Once completed, the immigration form is mailed to the SAVE program USCIS office in Washington, DC.