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E-Verify implements call-in process to resolve citizenship mismatch TNCs

Late last Friday, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced another new E-Verify policy update, which will impact employers and individuals who receive certain Social Security Administration (SSA) mismatches from the E-Verify system.

Specifically, as of March 4, 2021, employees who receive an SSA Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC) with a “citizenship mismatch” reason now have the option to call the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to resolve their cases, instead of visiting an SSA office.

According to an E-Verify representative, the new policy will help reduce the significant backlog of pending social security TNCs, which have been piling up as a result of SSA office closures during the pandemic. Last year, the agency extended the 8-day deadline for employees to visit an SSA office for an indefinite period of time – a temporary allowance which is still in place today.

How does this new policy impact employers using the E-Verify system? Read-on for our quick overview and best practice recommendations.

Review of the E-Verify TNC Process

First, let’s do a quick refresher. A TNC occurs when the E-Verify system detects that the employee’s information submitted from the Form I-9 does not match government records. A TNC can happen for many reasons including unreported name changes; incorrect name, social security number, or dates of birth; and citizenship mismatches (to name just a few). The TNC can originate from the Social Security Administration (an SSA TNC), the Department of Homeland Security (a DHS TNC), or both (a “dual TNC”).

When a TNC is issued, the employer must download the Further Action Notice (FAN), a two or three page auto-generated letter from E-Verify which explains why the TNC was received and what actions must be taken by the employee to resolve the issue.

And as of last year, the employer now has a strict 10-day timeline to take action on the TNC – specifically, you need to notify the employee, provide them a copy of the FAN, and make sure the employee decides whether or not to take action.

If the information on the FAN letter is correct and the employee decides to take action, the case will be officially “referred” to either the SSA or DHS, depending upon where the mismatch is occurring. For SSA-related issues, the employee is instructed to visit an SSA field office to update their information. For DHS-related issues, the employee is instructed to call DHS by telephone to resolve the mismatch.

Employees also have a strict timeline during the referral process – they must take action within 8 Federal Government working days of the referral, as indicated in the E-Verify Referral Date Confirmation letter. However, as noted above, E-Verify has extended the 8-day deadline indefinitely for SSA-related TNCs due to the SSA office closures.

New Call-In Process for Citizenship mismatch TNCs

Pursuant to Friday’s announcement, employees that receive an SSA TNC because of a citizenship mismatch may now call DHS to resolve the issue, rather than wait an indefinite time to schedule a visit with an SSA office. Citizenship mismatch cases usually occur when an employee is a naturalized US citizen, who had previously applied for (and received) a social security number prior to becoming a US citizen. If the employee does not notify SSA of their new status, the E-Verify system will often report a mismatch with the data coming from SSA.

To identify a citizenship mismatch TNC during the E-Verify process, employers will need to carefully examine the FAN letter and look for a special shaded area near the top labeled “Reason for this Notice.” Within that section, you’ll need to look for text indicating that the SSA was unable to confirm US citizenship.

Below is an example of a TNC received today with the “magic language” indicating a citizenship status mismatch:

Further down the page, you’ll find this additional block of text which specifically indicates that the employee may call DHS:

Recommended Best Practice for Employers

In light of this new policy, employers should consider the following best practice recommendations:

  1. Update your E-Verify TNC process and tutorials to include a review of the SSA FAN letter for citizenship status mismatch language – consider using the sample image above.
  2. When discussing a citizenship status mismatch TNC with an employee, mention that they can call DHS to resolve the issue as indicated on the letter.
  3. As always, employers should be careful to avoid asking employees too many questions about their citizenship status, as this can be perceived as treating the employee differently based on a protected class. The goal here is simply to inform them of the mismatch and how it can be resolved.

Do you have questions on today’s alert? Or want to know how an electronic I-9 system with integrated E-Verify functionality can help? Please contact us for more information.

About John Fay

John Fay is an immigration attorney and technologist with a deep applied knowledge of I-9 compliance and E-Verify rules and procedures. During his career, John has advised human resource managers and executives on a wide variety of corporate immigration compliance issues, including the implementation of electronic I-9 systems. In his current role, John serves as President at the LawLogix division of Hyland Software, Inc., where he oversees all aspects of the division’s operations and provides strategic leadership and direction in the development and support of Form I-9, E-Verify, and immigration case management software solutions.

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