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USCIS Offers Guidance on E-Verify Best Practices for Foreign Names


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently answered a query about potential discrepancies related to special characters in foreign names when using the E-Verify system. For example, the biographic page of a passport does not recognize the German umlauted “ϋ” and will translate it to the machine-readable “ue,” whereas a DS-2019 or I-20 may translate it as “u,” which can lead to spelling discrepancies in records.

USCIS explained that other than letters, the only characters allowed in E-Verify are spaces, single quotation marks, and hyphens. As a best practice, USCIS said employers should enter their employees’ names into E-Verify as they appear in Section 1 of the I-9 employment authorization verification form, without any special characters E-Verify does not accept. USCIS and partner agency systems have means of reconciling variations based on known variations in spelling due to language and culture, USCIS said. E-Verify relies on algorithms to cross-reference employee information, but USCIS said it cannot provide specific information regarding these algorithms.

If E-Verify is unable to initially confirm that a variation in spelling relates to the same person, the case is sent to status verifiers for additional verification under the “name check review process.” Through this process, verifiers may be able to reconcile a name variation without a need to contact the individual. If the variation cannot be reconciled, the employee may need to be contacted, USCIS noted.

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