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Small Business Digest


Government Program Offers Easy, Free Method To Verify Immigration Status Of Potential Employees

This story was originally published in June, 2005 and is available here to highlight a possible solution for companies seeking to improve their employee social security verification techniques. The Washington Post reports that more than 24,000 companies in Arizona have signed up since the enactment of more severe penalties for employing undocumented aliens.

Companies wanting to check on the immigration status of employees have a little known but effective program available at no cost that is being provided as part of the federal government’s homeland security agency.

Called the SAVE Program and administered by the Federal Citizen and Immigration Service, this offering is currently being used by more than 6,000 companies throughout the United States.

By signing up for the program, called Basic Point, companies can quickly check on the immigration status of new employees by typing in key information provided by applicants and receive an answer back quickly on the legal status of that individual.

As reported in the Star Ledger of New Jersey, since last year, Comtec has participated in a free, voluntary U.S. Department of Homeland Security program that enables employers to instantly check job applicants' immigration status over the Internet.

The company is one of just 6,200 among the nation's 8 million employers enrolled in the program, called Basic Pilot. In New Jersey, 150 companies participate. For more information go to

When someone applies for a job, Comtec’s Judith Ayari types in the applicant's personal information and receives a report in seconds telling her whether the person is eligible to work in the United States.

If they're denied, applicants are given eight days to sort out discrepancies with federal immigration agencies or the Social Security Administration. If they can't, they're not hired.

"It purely takes out the risk that someone can lie," said Ayari, Human Resource Director, whose 100 employees include immigrants from more than a half-dozen countries, including Guyana and the Dominican Republic. "It should be mandatory."

Comtec Inc., a bill-processing company in Fairfield, NJ, employs large numbers of foreign-born workers.

Under current law, prospective workers must present employers with proof of identity, such as a passport or driver's license, and proof of eligibility to work in the United States, such as a work visa.  Employers must check to make sure the documents "reasonably appear" to be genuine, but they are prohibited by anti-discrimination laws from asking for additional ID if they are suspicious.

Launched in 1997 to address those problems, Basic Pilot has been slow to expand.

In the meantime, Homeland Security officials have budgeted $110 million in next year's budget to expand Basic Pilot. They say the number of participating companies is growing.

Most notably, Dunkin' Brand Inc. the parent company of Dunkin' Donuts, has announced that it will begin requiring 4,900 of its franchises to use the program, a company spokesman said.

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