Congress mandated that USCIS provide a system that verifies the immigration status of an individual who is applying for certain types of federally funded benefits in various statutes as provided below:
Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), P.L. 99-603, dated November 6, 1986:
IRCA required the creation of 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.
Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA), P.L. 104-193, 110 Stat. 2168, dated August 22, 1996:
PRWORA required the establishment of regulations and interim guidance for the verification of immigration status of persons applying for “Federal public benefits.”
The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA), P.L. 104-208, dated September 30, 1996:
The IIRIRA required a means 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.
SAVE has a formal security and privacy incident response plan designed to ensure that incidents are reported, appropriately handled and responded to in a timely fashion to minimize resultant impacts. SAVE will assess the privacy risk posed by an incident, the appropriateness of notifying affected individuals, and the utility of offering support, such as credit report monitoring, on a case-by-case basis. The incident response plan for SAVE aligns with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Privacy Incident Handling Guidance (PIHG), which can be found in the "Related Links" section of the SAVE Q&A main page.
Name (last, first, middle initial)
Date of birth
More information can be found in the latest Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA), which can be found in the "related Links" section of the SAVE Q&A main page.
All personal information is “For Official Use Only” and is handled in accordance with DHS policy. Accordingly, SAVE seeks to protect personal information in physical and electronic form using physical, technical, and administrative safeguards, such as encryption, passwords, audit logs, and formal data sharing agreements with authorized entities. Furthermore, all SAVE personnel must complete annual privacy training to ensure they properly handle all personal information. Additional information can be found in the latest Privacy Impact Assessment pertaining to SAVE, as operated under USCIS, which can be found in the "Related Links" section of the SAVE Q&A main page.
Individuals may request access to their information by submitting a written Privacy Act request to USCIS, clearly marked “Privacy Act Request” and mailing it to the following address: National Records Center FOIA/PA Office P.O. Box 648010 Lee’s Summit, MO 64064-8010. If an individual has an Alien Registration Number, they must provide it along with full name, date and place of birth, and return address. If an individual does not have an Alien Registration Number, they must provide their full name, date and place of birth, and return address.
In the event that an individual participates in SAVE and is denied a benefit and/or license by a granting agency, the individual should follow whatever procedure that agency has to challenge the determination.
Participation in SAVE is mandatory for Federal public benefit programs. State and local agencies may also be mandated by state law to verify immigration status. Generally, only those individuals who are requesting a benefit or a license will be screened. An individual’s information is used solely to query the VIS database to ascertain whether or not an individual is in a lawful immigration status. One exception is the screening of family members listed by an individual for purposes of their background check. Named family members will also be run through the VIS database to ensure that they, too, are in a lawful immigration status.
Individuals subject to a SAVE query, as well as the family members of those individuals seeking credentials, are given notice regarding the collection and use of their information in SAVE through the relevant USCIS Privacy Impact Assessment and VIS SORN, available through the links provided in the "Related Links" section of the main SAVE Q&A page.
Failure to provide consent may result in a determination of ineligibility for a particular benefit.
USCIS will share your information with federal, state and local entities that administer or help administer the benefit, license, or credential for which you are applying.
USCIS may provide SAVE data, including your personal information, to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Civil Rights Division, for the purpose of responding to matters within the DOJ’s jurisdiction to include allegations of fraud and/or immigration discrimination.
USCIS may also provide SAVE data, including your personal information, to appropriate federal, state, local, tribal, or foreign governmental agencies or multilateral governmental organizations responsible for investigating or prosecuting the violations of, or for enforcing or implementing, a statute, rule, regulation, order, license, or treaty where DHS determines that the information would assist in the enforcement of civil or criminal laws. In certain situations, SAVE may also share your personal information with other entities as identified in the System of Records Notice (SORN) for the Verification Information System (VIS) as operated under USCIS, which can be found in the "Related Links" section of the SAVE Q&A main page.
SAVE recognizes the importance of protecting the privacy of individuals participating in the SAVE Program from harm and has designated Verification officials to ensure your information in collected, used, disclosed, and retained in an authorized manner, and to protect against fraud and misuse of the SAVE system. If you believe that your personal information has been collected, used, or disclosed inappropriately during the SAVE process, please contact SAVE Customer Support at (888) 464-4218 or email us at SAVE.Help@dhs.gov. Further information on SAVE privacy practices can be found in the "Related Links" section of the SAVE Q&A main page.
Before an agency may use VIS to obtain immigration status information, an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) must be signed between that agency and DHS/USCIS to establish the terms and conditions governing its participation in the SAVE Program. The MOU clearly states its purpose as verifying the citizenship and immigration status of alien applicants for benefits granted by the Agency and restricts the use and disclosure of personal information.
SAVE has also established an office to monitor benefit-granting agencies’ use of the program and enforce provisions of the MOU. This office will be able to create reports to allow possible follow up with appropriate law enforcement entities in the event concerns arise regarding potential fraud and/or misuse of the system.
Personal information used by SAVE is stored in the Verification Information System (VIS), which is managed by USCIS. USCIS retains the data in VIS for ten (10) years from the date of the completion of the verification. This retention period is based on the statute of limitations for prosecuting most types of crimes involving the misuse of VIS information. (Under 18 U.S.C. § 3291, the statute of limitations for false statements or misuse regarding passports, citizenship or naturalization documents is 10 years).
Your personal information is being used by federal, state and local entities with the legal authority to seek immigration status; these include benefit-issuing agencies, licensing bureaus, and credentialing organizations.
Note that SAVE provides government agencies with citizenship and immigration information so that agencies can determine an individual’s eligibility for government benefits; it does not determine whether an individual is eligible for a government benefit. Examples include applications for Section 8 housing assistance, applications for student visas, and background checks on a job applicant and/or family members listed on the background check materials.
More information on how your information is used can be found in the System of Records Notice (SORN) for the Verification Information System (VIS) as operated under USCIS, which can be found in the "Related Links" section of the SAVE Q&A main page.