E-Verify Extended Through September 2012

The E-Verify program has been extended through September 2012.  E-Verify is the government program that allows employers to electronically verify right to work status of workers in the United States.

Law Extends USCIS Program Through September 2012

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) advises its customers that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act of 2010, signed by the President on Oct. 28, 2009, extends the following USCIS programs until Sept. 30, 2012:

  • E-Verify
  • Immigrant Investor (EB-5) Pilot Program
  • special immigrant visa category for non-minister religious workers
  • date by which J-1 nonimmigrant exchange visitors must obtain that status in order to qualify for the “Conrad 30” program.

E-Verify, an Internet-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA), allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.  More than 168,000 participating employers at nearly 640,000 worksites nationwide currently use the program.  Since Oct. 1, 2009, more than 1.3 million employment verification queries have been run through the system and approximately 96.9 percent of all queries are now automatically confirmed without any need for employee action.

Under the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, USCIS will continue to receive, process, and adjudicate all Regional Center Proposals and Forms I-526, Immigrant Petitions by Alien Entrepreneur, and Form I-485, Applications to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, affiliated with Regional Centers relying on “indirect” job creation analysis. Currently, there are more than 70 regional centers throughout the United States.

The special immigrant visa category for non-minister religious workers covers those within a religious vocation or occupation and also applies to accompanying or ‘following-to-join’ spouses and children of non-ministers. USCIS will continue to receive and process Form 1-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, based on Form I-360 petitions.

Finally, USCIS will continue to adjudicate immigration benefits covered by the “Conrad 30” program.  The “Conrad 30” program allows each state health department to submit a request directly to the Department of State to initiate the waiver process for a foreign medical graduate who obtained J-1 status to change or adjust to another status without the required two-year foreign residence.  The law previously required the foreign medical graduate to have acquired J-1 status before Sept. 30, 2009; the law now extends the program to cover J-1 admissions before Sept. 30, 2012.

View USCIS Release

FTC Delays Red Flag Rules Again and Again 11/4/2009

The FTC’s “Red Flag” mandate to curb identity theft was set to take effect on November 1, 2009, one full year after the original policy was to be enforced. Creditors and Financial Institutions were to develop and implement a written Identity Theft Prevention Program.  At the 11th hour, it was announced that they will again delay enforcement until June 1, 2010.

According to the FTC, “The Rule was promulgated under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, in which Congress directed the Commission and other agencies to develop regulations requiring ‘creditors’ and ‘financial institutions’ to address the risk of identity theft. The resulting Red Flags Rule requires all such entities that have ‘covered accounts’ to develop and implement written identity theft prevention programs to help identify, detect, and respond to patterns, practices, or specific activities – known as ‘red flags’ – that could indicate identity theft.”

Full FTC Release

Further, all employers that conduct background checks are supposed to have a policy in place to handle “Red Flag” Address Discrepancy Notifications from the National Consumer Reporting Agencies (mainly credit bureaus). This rule has been in effect since last November and we are still unclear what such notifications will look like when and if they occur.

For more information on these guidelines and how to comply check out:

Users of Consumer Reports Have New Responsibilities as of November 1
EmployeeScreenIQ Offers Free Webinar on New FTC Guidelines

11/23/2009 Police Chief Hired Without Background Check

Police Chief Hired Without Background Check

11/23/2009 WSMV-TV

IRON CITY, Tenn. — A police chief in Lawrence County is off the job after the Channel 4 I-Team raised questions about his past.

Jesse Barnett had previously been fired from one police department and forced to resign from another because of inappropriate behavior.

Even after these previous incidents, Channel 4 learned that the town of Iron City hired Barnett as their police chief without doing a background check.

For the last seven months, Barnett was essentially the law in Iron City, but he’s developed a reputation around town.”We all want to get rid of him, most of us,” said Iron City resident Charles Etheredge.

“He’s not qualified in my book, and the people in Iron City, the citizens, are not satisfied with him,” said Iron City resident James Heatherly.

There are questions not just about how Barnett did his job, but how he got his job. How does someone who’s lost two jobs in law enforcement then become the chief of another police department?

The city manager in charge of hiring Barnett in Iron City never did a background check. But if he would have, he would have found out a lot about Barnett’s past.

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White House Party Crashers Didn’t Have a Background Check

Rule #84, Whatever it Takes!

Rule #84, Whatever it Takes!

In one of the wildest stories we have read over the Thanksgiving Holiday,  Michaele and Tareq Salahi are being investigated for crashing the White House State Dinner last week.  According to the Wall Street Journal:

President Barack Obama asked for a full review of how a Virginia couple vying for a spot in the cast of a reality-TV show was able to crash Tuesday’s state dinner for the prime minister of India, a White House official said Friday.

Secret Service Director Mark Sullivan issued a rare apology, saying the service took full responsibility for the episode and was “deeply concerned and embarrassed.”

Rule #84 Whatever it Takes!

Typically, anyone coming into contact with President Obama or certain areas of the white house are subject to a thorough background check by the US Secret Service.   The couple was still subject to various searches when entering the White House but nothing was done to verify their identity or criminal history before entering.

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Do references really matter?

story.references.giFound this on CNN.com and figured I would post it before the holiday weekend.  This is a good article about reference checks, a sometimes critical part of the background screening process.  Enjoy!

Do references really matter?
By Rachel Zupek, CareerBuilder.com
November 25, 2009 12:05 p.m. EST

(CareerBuilder.com) — The importance of references seems to be a hot topic these days. Employers want to make sure they are hiring the right person for the job; but some thwart the process because checking references can be labor-intensive. On the other hand, job seekers provide references they know will give a glowing report, but employers are getting smarter and finding references you didn’t provide.

So, what’s the deal? Do references matter? Do employers even check them anymore? What’s the protocol for providing them to a potential employer? Who are the best people to include as references? And, if an employer doesn’t call any of your references, is it a bad sign?

While the definitive answer to any of these questions depends on the employer, overall, yes, references do still matter. The process has just changed.

“References play a huge role in the hiring process, perhaps now more than ever,” said Heather R. Huhman, founder and president of Come Recommended, an online community that connects internship and entry-level job candidates with employers.” Oftentimes, hiring managers fall in love with a candidate on paper and then again in an interview, only to find out through a reference check that none of their previous employers would ever hire them again. By checking a candidate’s references, hiring managers save themselves the frustration of hiring a person who is not a good fit for a company. In this economy, where hiring budgets are slim, every hire must be a great fit.”

Provided references are no guarantee

Though the majority of employers do check references, others skip this step. Not only is it labor-intensive to check references for people who might not be poised for a job offer, but Jack Harsh, adjunct professor at the University of Richmond Robins School of Business, said that many employers worry about the risk of liability in rejecting a candidate based on poor references.

“[Hiring] decisions cannot be based on information that is discriminatory in nature, so to avoid any liability, the checks are forgone,” Harsh said. “Sadly, the first reference the employer gets in such cases is from colleagues after employment has begun.”

Steve Langerud, director of career development at Depauw University, adds that sometimes, the quality of references is benign.

“Everyone wants to be helpful and supportive to former employees, but in the end, they offer little substance to a new employer,” he says. “Legally, they are limited by what they can or want to say about former employees. I think the old formal system of references is dead in most professional fields.”

Langerud warns that just because an employer isn’t checking personal references the traditional way doesn’t mean he isn’t checking references at all.

“Employers are more likely to check the informal, but tangible, behavioral reference sources like LinkedIn, Facebook, credit history [or] criminal history than the more subjective references provided by candidates,” he said. “Candidates should be much more intentional about crafting a professional identity that serves the role of a ‘reference’ but within the context of the work, profession and colleagues you seek to engage. It eliminates the weaknesses inherent in the old style of references that become so watered down they are useless.”

The last thing you want to do is give an employer useless references, but many job seekers make the mistake of not taking the time to thoughtfully choose the right people to speak on their behalf, said Elaine Varelas, managing partner for Keystone Partners, an outplacement and talent management consulting firm.

“You want people who can speak to your role as a professional, not as a nice neighbor,” Varelas said. “Candidates can make their references count by prepping them to discuss their specific skills as they relate to the job and the impact they brought to the job, which can be just the differentiation needed in this highly competitive market.”

Harsh agrees that when he receives a résumé with references attached, he gives them virtually no weight.

“They seldom are specific to the role my company seeks and are not meaningful in considering qualifications or traits of successful candidate,” he said.

Finally, when it comes to protocol for submitting references, the process has changed as well. It used to be that applicants sent them in with their other application materials, but now, Varelas says, you should wait to provide references until you are asked.

“Most companies do not want your references until the end of the process and they will let you know when to provide a list of names and contact information. Do not send written references,” she said. “These do not offer the highest impact as they are not specific on how you will fit into the job you are pursuing. It is better to spend your time preparing your references for the kinds of questions they will be asked, and what they can do to help you close an offer.”

Helpful hints

Harsh, Varelas and Langerud offer these 10 tips to ensure you do everything right when it comes to providing references:

1. Include references only when requested by an employer.

2. Carefully consider whom to provide after discussion with the prospective employer. The time to check references is before an offer is made, but after the candidate is either the final candidate or among the final few for the job.

3. Seek references from people who actually know you and your work. Ask for permission to list them as a reference.

4. Ask directly if they can provide you with a positive reference for the position(s) you are seeking. If they hesitate, move on!

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Background Check Turkeys

In honor of my favorite holiday of the year, I give you this year’s Background Check Turkeys:  Those people who thought they could fool us all as well as those who have gotten fooled.  These are my favorites from the past few months. Enjoy!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fake Job Reference Services Add New Wrinkle to Screening

Hi everyone! This is my first post on our new platform after re-launching EmployeeScreen University this week.  So, as you can see I am very excited!  Fortunately for all of us this one will be short and to the point.

Today, The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) posted a great article to their website; Fake Job Reference Services Add New Wrinkle to Screening .  As you know this is a topic we have written about many times over the years.  In fact, we just released a great white paper on this exact subject called: Smoke, Mirrors and Resumes:  The Growing Threat of Diploma Mills.  The article touches on the importance of background checks and quality employment screening practices but more directly lays out the risk.  In it they say:

New web-based services that offer fake work histories and references to job seekers are changing the complexion of resume-padding. These services further complicate the challenges employers face in identifying and hiring honest, qualified employees.

You need to be a SHRM member to view the article!  I hope you enjoy!

11/20/2009 Immigration and Customs Enforcement Announces 1,000 New Workplace Audits

WASHINGTON-U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Assistant Secretary John Morton today announced the issuance of Notices of Inspection (NOIs) to 1,000 employers across the country associated with critical infrastructure-alerting business owners that ICE will audit their hiring records to determine compliance with employment eligibility verification laws.

“ICE is focused on finding and penalizing employers who believe they can unfairly get ahead by cultivating illegal workplaces,” said Assistant Secretary Morton. “We are increasing criminal and civil enforcement of immigration-related employment laws and imposing smart, tough employer sanctions to even the playing field for employers who play by the rules.”

The 1,000 businesses served with audit notices this week were selected for inspection as a result of investigative leads and intelligence and because of the business’ connection to public safety and national security-for example, privately owned critical infrastructure and key resources. The names and locations of the businesses will not be released at this time due to the ongoing, law enforcement sensitive nature of these audits.

Audits involve a comprehensive review of Form I-9s, which employers are required to complete and retain for each individual hired in the United States. I-9 forms require employers to review and record each individual’s identity and work eligibility document(s) and determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and related to that specific individual.

Protecting employment opportunities for the nation’s lawful workforce and targeting employers who knowingly employ an illegal workforce are major ICE priorities, for which ICE employs all available civil and administrative tools, including audits. Audits may result in civil penalties and lay the groundwork for criminal prosecution of employers who knowingly violate the law.

View Full Release