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How to Prevent an E-Verify Tentative Nonconfirmation (TNC)

Imagine, for just a moment, that you’re in HR and you’ve just been “voluntold” to manage your organization’s E-Verify compliance for all newly hired employees. At first glance, it sounds simple enough, and you’ve heard all of these great things about E-Verify from your colleagues –“it’s fast….it’s free…it’s electronic!” Yes, we get that excited in the immigration world when processes are not hopelessly stuck in the 1980’s….

But, as you peruse the online E-Verify documentation (all 100+ pages of it), you will eventually learn about this thing called a “tentative nonconfirmation” or “TNC” which as its name suggests, is “kind of, maybe, perhaps” bad news in your quest to quickly onboard your new employee.

Why did I get an E-Verify TNC?

First off, don’t panic. By design, E-Verify generates a TNC when the system detects that the employee’s information submitted from the Form I-9 does not match government records. As the agency notes, a TNC does not mean that your employee is unauthorized to work. It simply reflects a mismatch that needs to be investigated.

In fact, a TNC can happen for many innocent reasons that have nothing to do with your employee’s work authorization. For example, you may get a TNC because of unreported name changes; incorrect name, social security number, or dates of birth; and citizenship mismatches (to name just a few).

A TNC can also be the result of an employee with falsified (or stolen) information – which of course, is the main reason for using E-Verify in the first place.

The TNC Checklist

But regardless of the reason, a TNC spells additional work and additional (potential) complications for the busy HR professional. Per the E-Verify rules, the employer must perform a laundry list of tasks to ensure compliance. In particular, you must:

  • Meet with the employee in private to discuss the TNC
  • Ensure that your organization does not take any adverse action (e.g., termination, delayed start date, withholding of training, etc.)
  • Provide the employee with the system-generated Further Action Notice (FAN) which explains the TNC in more detail
  • Ensure the employee decides whether or not to “take action” within 10 federal government working days
  • Maintain a signed copy of the FAN and other notices
  • Indicate the employee’s decision in the E-Verify system
  • Ensure the employee contacts SSA or DHS within 8 federal government workdays, unless an exception applies
  • Monitor the E-Verify case on a daily basis for future updates

Tips for preventing “avoidable” TNCs

As mentioned above, many TNCs occur as a result of “name mismatches” and other data discrepancies between what’s entered on the Form I-9 and the various backend government databases that comprise the E-Verify system. To prevent these TNCs from occurring, the USCIS provides the following general recommendations:

Name Issues – Section 1 of the I-9

  • Enter your employee enters their “full legal name” in Section 1 of the I-9 – i.e., what is provided on their government-issued documentation.
  • If the employee has two last names (family names), include both on the I-9 and E-Verify case. If they hyphenate their last name, include the hyphen (-) between the names.
  • If the employee has two first names (given names), include both.
  • Do not use nicknames such as Tommy, Johnny, etc.
  • If your employee’s full legal name includes apostrophes (‘) or hyphens (-), make sure you include these when completing Section 1.
  • Include other last names used, if applicable.

Validating Other Critical Pieces of Data

  • If the employee has provided an unrestricted social security card as one of their document choices, always validate that you have correctly entered the number into E-Verify and that it matches the SSN entered by the employee in Section 1.
  • If the employee has chosen to present a driver’s license or state ID card, always validate that you have correctly entered the document number and expiration date in E-Verify.
  • If the employee has chosen to present a US passport, always validate that you have correctly entered the document number and expiration date in E-Verify.
  • Ensure the employee has chosen the correct attestation in Section 1 of the Form I-9, and that the document provided in Section 2 are consistent with that attestation.
  • Ensure the accuracy of an employee’s A-Number (Alien Number), Form I-94 number, or foreign passport information entered in Section 2.

Best Practices for Employers using Integrated Electronic I-9 and E-Verify Platforms

Employers using electronic I-9 systems with built-in integrations to the E-Verify system will generally experience fewer “avoidable TNCs” because the system virtually eliminates transcription errors that are quite common in the “paper I-9” world.

Nevertheless, employers using electronic I-9 systems should still consider implementing an “I-9 review” process to ensure that the data submitted to E-Verify meets all of the validation requirements and standards outlined above. This review process will typically be performed by a centralized team (or individual) who can quickly verify document copies against the completed I-9 prior to E-Verify submittal.

Employers should also make use of the “review and validate” step in their electronic I-9 application, which provides a last chance to correct a mistake before it turns into a TNC. Too often, employers will simply confirm their original submission without actually checking to see if the Form I-9 had correctible issues based on the documents presented.

Last but not least, employers should investigate whether their system of choice has advanced tools and smart error-checking which can further streamline the I-9 review process and prevent those needless TNCs. Built-in tools such as dashboards, review queues, and reports can help your HR team carefully monitor and manage E-Verify cases – regardless of their state or eventual outcome.

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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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