Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements
The Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program is responsible for administering programs involving customer access to information contained in the Verification Information System (VIS) database. This database is a nationally accessible database of selected immigration status information on over 60 million records.
The SAVE Program enables Federal, state, and local government agencies and licensing bureaus to obtain immigration status information they need in order to determine a non-citizen applicant's eligibility for many public benefits.
About the SAVE Program
The Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) Program is an intergovernmental information-sharing initiative designed to aid eligibility workers in determining a non-citizen applicant's immigration status, and thereby ensure that only entitled non-citizen applicants receive Federal, state, or local public benefits and licenses. The SAVE Program is an information service for benefit issuing agencies, institutions, licensing bureaus, and other entities. The SAVE Program does not make determinations on any non-citizen applicant's eligibility for a specific benefit or license.
Congress passed the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), P.L. 99-603, which required the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (now Department of Homeland Security (DHS), effective March 1, 2003) to establish a system for verifying the immigration status of non-citizen applicants for, and recipients of, certain types of federally funded benefits, and to make the system available to Federal, state, and local benefit issuing agencies and institutions that administer such benefits. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the DHS agency responsible for administering the SAVE Program. The IRCA, as amended, mandates the following programs and overseeing agencies to participate in the verification of an applicant’s immigration status: the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) Program, the Medicaid Program, and certain Territorial Assistance Programs (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services); the Unemployment Compensation Program (U.S. Department of Labor); Title IV Educational Assistance Programs (U.S. Department of Education); and certain Housing Assistance Programs (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development).
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), P.L. 104-193, 110 Stat. 2168, also required that the Attorney General establish regulations and interim guidance for the verification of immigration status of persons applying for “Federal public benefits”. The Department of Justice issued interim guidance in 1997. See “Interim Guidance on Verification of Citizenship, Qualified Alien Status and Eligibility Under Title IV of [PRWORA]”, 62 Federal Register 6,344-02 (Nov. 17, 1997). This guidance is for any entity administering a non-exempt Federal public benefit, other than non-profit charitable organizations, and is not limited to the agencies and programs specified in IRCA.
The PRWORA created a very complex set of eligibility requirements that cannot be easily summarized. These requirements continue to be regularly amended by Congress. The PRWORA did not affirmatively make any person eligible for any benefit. Rather, it placed a new set of limitations on non-citizen eligibility on top of any program-specific requirements (some of which may have limited non-citizen eligibility). With certain exceptions, PRWORA made non-citizens who are not "qualified aliens" ineligible for Federal public benefits, and aliens who are not qualified aliens, lawful nonimmigrants, or aliens paroled into the United States under Section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for less than one year ineligible for state or local public benefits. There are also limitations on the eligibility of qualified aliens for certain benefits, again with exceptions.
The PRWORA, as amended by the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), P.L. 104-208, and the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA), P.L. 105-33, 8 U.S.C. 1642, defines a "qualified alien" as:
an alien who is lawfully admitted for permanent residence under the INA; an alien who is granted asylum under Section 208 of the INA; a refugee who is admitted to the United States under Section 207 of the INA; an alien who is paroled into the United States under Section 212(d)(5) of the INA for a period of at least 1 year; an alien whose deportation is being withheld under Section 243(h) of the INA (as in effect prior to April 1, 1997) or whose removal has been withheld under Section 241(b)(3); an alien who is granted conditional entry pursuant to Section 203(a)(7) of the INA as in effect prior to April 1, 1980; an alien who is a Cuban/Haitian Entrant as defined by Section 501(e) of the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980; and an alien who has been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty, or whose child or parent has been battered or subject to extreme cruelty. The PRWORA restrictions do not apply to all Federal, state, and local funded activities or programs; they apply only to non-exempt "Federal public benefits" and "state and local public benefits." Therefore, benefit providers should first determine whether the particular program they administer is providing a "Federal public benefit" or a "state and local public benefit" for which Title IV of PRWORA or other applied laws requires non-citizen eligibility. For example, emergency medical care and certain forms of disaster relief are exempt, as are other key benefits. If an agency requires further assistance in determining whether a specific benefit it administers is a Federal, state, or local public benefit, it should contact the overseeing Federal, state, or local Government agency, as that agency would be in the best position to make that determination.
With certain exceptions, the PRWORA defines "Federal public benefit" as:
any grant, contract, loan, professional license, or commercial license provided by an agency of the United States or by appropriated funds of the United States; and any retirement, welfare, disability, public or assisted housing, post-secondary education, food assistance, unemployment benefit, or any other similar benefit for which payments or assistance are provided to an individual, household, or family eligibility unit by an agency of the United States or by appropriated funds of the United States. The PRWORA’s definition of "state and local public benefit" parallels the definition of Federal public benefit, except that it substitutes "state or local government" for "the United States." State or local public benefits do not include Federal public benefits; therefore, a benefit cannot meet both definitions. If a benefit qualifies as a "Federal public benefit," it is not a "state or local public benefit" regardless of whether state or local funding is also involved.
The IIRIRA requires the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, now Department of Homeland Security, to respond to inquiries by Federal, state, and local benefit issuing agencies and institutions seeking to verify or determine the citizenship or immigration status of any individual within the jurisdiction of the agency for any lawful purpose. The SAVE Program’s automated and manual verification processes provide Federal, state, and local benefit issuing agencies and institutions with information which will assist them in determining an individual’s eligibility under Title IV of PRWORA.
The REAL ID Act of 2005, Division B of Public Law 109-13, May 11, 2005, established certain minimum standards for the issuance of state-issued driver's licenses and state-issued identification cards in order for those documents to be acceptable for Federal purposes. To meet the requirements of the REAL ID Act, by May 11, 2008, states must, among other things, verify the lawful status of every driver's license and identification card applicant. Section 202(a) of the Act prohibits federal agencies from accepting for any official purpose after May 11, 2008, driver's licenses and identification cards issued by States not in compliance with the Act.
Section 202(c)(3)(C) of the Act mandates that all States enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the SAVE Program by September 11, 2005. The Act also requires that states be in full compliance by May 2008, in order to have their state-issued driver's licenses and state-issued identification cards recognized by the Federal government for official purposes. One provision is the routine verification of lawful status through the SAVE Program of all non-citizen applicants for a driver's license or state-issued identification card.
Other Agency SAVE Participants
While IRCA, as amended, only mandates selected programs to participate in SAVE, any Federal, state, or local benefit-granting authority or licensing bureau that requires verification of an applicant's/recipient's immigration status may apply for participation in the SAVE Program. The following are examples of agencies that presently participate in the SAVE Program with respect to non-mandated programs:
Department of Defense Manpower Data Center Social Security Administration (SSA) Driver's Licensing Agencies in Arkansas, California, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, South Dakota, Virginia, and Wyoming Mohegan Tribal Gaming Commission City of New York Human Resources Administration Palm Beach County Property Appraiser Transportation Security Administration, HAZMAT Program Office of Personnel Management Federal Protective Service
Status Verification Process
Verification Information System (VIS), Customer Processing System (CPS)
The SAVE Program has reengineered the way it delivers immigration status verification information to Federal, state, and local benefit issuing agencies and licensing bureaus. This allows the user to make faster benefit eligibility determinations, which can result in cost savings to the Government and better service.
Available Access Methods
VIS-CPS Web 1
Once VIS-CPS Web 1 is accessed, the user enters the non-citizen's A-number to do the initial query against the VIS database, and within seconds, the system will respond with the non-citizen's immigration status/employment eligibility statement or a system message to "Institute Additional Verification." If the non-citizen's immigration status/employment eligibility statement is returned and no material discrepancies exist between the information returned from the VIS database and that on the non-citizen's immigration document, the verification is complete. The user can print the verification case data for its records, and close the case to remove it from its workload. When a user receives the "Institute Additional Verification" message or when material discrepancies exist between the immigration document, the user is provided a data entry screen to submit additional information electronically from the non-citizen's immigration document to an Immigration Status Verifier (ISV) for processing. Upon receipt of this information, the ISV processes the request for status verification and electronically transmits the results to the User Agency. Internet access and a supported web browser (Internet Explorer 5.5 or newer, or Netscape 4.7 or newer, but not Netscape 7.0) are required to access the VIS-CPS database using the Web 1 access method. the Web 1 access method establishes a secure Internet connection to VIS-CPS.
VIS-CPS Web 2
VIS-CPS Web 2 is very similar to VIS-CPS Web 1 except that the User Agency must enter the additional information from the non-citizen's immigration document up-front with the initial query. This includes the non-citizen's A-Number, first, middle, and last names, date of birth, user case number, and the immigration document type and its expiration date. If the non-citizen's immigration status can be verified through the VIS database, the system will provide the status to the user within seconds. If the non-citizen's status cannot be verified through the VIS database and additional verification is required it is automatically electronically sent to an ISV for processing. The ISV retrieves and responds to the additional verification request the same way as they do for VIS-CPS Web 1. VIS-CPS Web 2 also allows a user to request additional verification when material discrepancies exist between the information returned from the VIS database and that on the non-citizen's immigration document. As with Web 1, Internet access and a supported web browser (Internet Explorer 5.5 or newer, or Netscape 4.7 or newer, but not Netscape 7.0) are also required to access the VIS-CPS database using Web 2. The Web 2 access method also establishes a secure Internet connection to VIS-CPS.
VIS-CPS Web 3
VIS-CPS Web 3 is also very similar to VIS-CPS Web 1. The only difference is that the user can run initial queries using A-Numbers or I-94 Arrival/Departure Numbers. The additional verification process works exactly the same as with VIS-CPS Web 1. Internet access and a supported web browser (Internet Explorer 5.5 or newer, or Netscape 4.7 or newer, but not Netscape 7.0) are also required to access the VIS-CPS database using Web 3. The Web 3 access method also establishes a secure Internet connection to VIS-CPS.
VIS-CPS SFTP Priority Batch
VIS-CPS Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) Priority Batch is another access method currently available and is a computer match between the VIS database and the User Agency and is only available to very high-volume users. Batch is similar to PC System 2 in that if the applicant's immigration status cannot be provided by the VIS database in the initial computer match, the additional verification request is automatically elecronically sent to an ISV for processing. The ISV then retrieves and responds to the additional verification request the same as he or she does for all other VIS access methods, and the results file is transmitted back to the User Agency during the next hourly computer match upload. VIS-CPS SFTP Priority Batch requires Internet access, SFTP connectivity, and custom software for formatting queries and interpreting the output file.
VIS-CPS Web Services
VIS-CPS Web Services is the last available access method and functions like VIS-CPS Web 1 and 3. It allows user agencies to submit initial queries by A# or I# and to request additional verification when directed by a VIS/CPS system message, or when material discrepancies exist between the information returned from the VIS database and that on the non-citizen's immigration document. The additional verification process works exactly the same as with all other VIS-CPS access methods. VIS-CPS Web Services is program-to-program communication between the user agency and VIS-CPS using a secure protocol over the Internet, allowing the user agency's program to submit verification requests and receive responses. Internet access and commercial off-the-shelf software that enables development of a client web service application is required.
SAVE verification is also available through a manual process if the use of VIS/CPS is not cost-effective. The SAVE Program also requires participating agencies, institutions, and other entities to use manual verification when directed by an VIS/CPS system message, or when the automated check or initial inspection of an applicant's/recipient's documentation, or information provided from such documentation, reveals material discrepancies. To conduct a manual verification, user agencies complete the Document Verification Request (Form G-845), attach copies of the non-citizen's immigration documentation, and mail it to their local immigration status verification office. Once the immigration status verification office receives and processes the Form G-845, it is returned to the User Agency via the U.S. Postal Service.
VERIFICATION INFORMATION SYSTEM (VIS) CUSTOMER PROCESSING SYSTEM (CPS) ACCESS METHODS, TRANSACTION CHARGES, AND REQUIRED EQUIPMENT EFFECTIVE APRIL 1, 2005
ACCESS METHOD TRANSACTION CHARGES EQUIPMENT REQUIRED Web-Based Initial Verification - $0.26 (Web 1, 2, and 3) Additional Verification - Additional $0.48 Personal Computer with Internet Access and
a supported web browser (Internet Explorer 5.5 or newer, or Netscape 6.0 or newer, but not Netscape 7.0)
Computer Matching Initial Verification - $0.20 (SFTP Priority Batch) Additional Verification - Additional $0.24 Internet access and Secure File Transfer
Protocol (SFTP) connectivity. Custom software needed for formatting queries and interpreting the output files.
Web Services Initial Verification - $0.20
Additional Verification - Additional $0.24 Internet Access and commercial off-the- shelf software that enables development of a client web service application.
NOTE: A minimum monthly service fee of $25.00 is automatically billed to user agencies whose VIS query volume totals do not exceed $25.00. However, if no query of VIS is completed during the month, there is no charge.
SAVE Program Administration
To join the SAVE Program and acquire access to VIS-CPS to perform immigration status verification, an agency must first establish a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the SAVE Program, and then establish a purchase order with the SAVE Program contractor to pay for VIS-CPS transaction fees. Access to SAVE is subject to USCIS resource limitations or other legal or policy criteria. To request participation in SAVE and to begin the MOU process, please access the following website to register: https://www.vis-dhs.com/agencyregistration
For more information on the SAVE Program, contact us at: 1-888-464-4218 or SAVE.HELP@DHS.gov
--Dbounds 14:26, 5 February 2008 (EST)David Bounds