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Social Security Administration Resumes E-Verify TNC Processing on July 15th

Yesterday, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will resume processing of E-Verify mismatches – marking the end to a very long “grace period” of sorts for affected employees that had been extended by the agency at the onset of the pandemic here in the US.

Starting July 15, 2022, employees whose E-Verify cases are referred to SSA on or after July 15, 2022, will once again have the normal 8 federal working days to contact their local SSA office to begin resolving the mismatch. E-Verify cases referred between March 2, 2020 and July 14, 2022, with a SSA mismatch will have until September 29, 2023 to resolve it as described in more detail below.

Background

In March 2020, as government offices and businesses across the US shuttered their doors as a result of COVID-19, the USCIS announced that they were extending the timeframe for employees to take action to resolve SSA-based mismatches (aka “TNCs” or tentative nonconfirmations) due to the SSA office closures to the public.

Under normal pre-pandemic circumstances, an employee contesting a TNC must contact the government office within 8 federal government working days or risk getting a Final Nonconfirmation and loss of employment. Employees with SSA TNCs usually need to visit a local SSA office, whereas DHS TNCs can typically be resolved over the phone (and thus no extension of time had been granted for these).

While many employers (and employees alike) appreciated the “TNC holiday” from E-Verify, the extended time period led to a rather large (and growing) queue of referred TNC cases with the SSA office that were essentially “frozen” in time. Last November, E-Verify announced that the agency began updating some of these frozen referred SSA TNCs with final responses – specifically, in cases where DHS had independently determined that the employee was not employment authorized, even though SSA has not been able to respond to their part of the TNC.

But the large majority of referred SSA TNCs remained frozen….until now.

Deadlines and Preferred Timeframes for Resolving Frozen TNCs

As noted above, as of July 15, 2022, employees whose E-Verify cases are referred to SSA on or after July 15, 2022, will have the normal 8 federal working days to contact their local SSA office to begin resolving the mismatch. Employees with mismatches that were referred between March 2, 2020 and July 14, 2022 (i.e., the “frozen cases”) will have until September 29, 2023 to resolve their long dormant cases – a fairly significant extension period, by DHS standards.

In making this announcement, the USCIS also provided a chart of “preferred” timeframes for employees to contact the SSA (depending upon when they received the TNC), presumably to avoid a mad rush of employees visiting the local SSA offices all at once. Notably, the earliest preferred date to begin contacting the SSA for these frozen cases is October 1, 2022 as illustrated below.

 

Next Steps for Employers

While the resumption of SSA mismatch processing is ultimately a good thing for employers (and the verification system as a whole), organizations will need to take several proactive steps for both new hires moving forward as well as any frozen cases that will soon require defrosting.

  1. First and foremost, ensure that your employer representatives handling E-Verify are aware that starting on July 15, employees will once again need to observe the normal 8 federal working day timeframe for resolving SSA-based TNCs. This may involve modifying your written policies or TNC “talking points” with new hires so that they understand the deadlines and act accordingly. In doing so, it’s always a good idea to emphasize to your reps that employers may NOT take any adverse action against an employee while the mismatch is in an interim case status.
  2. Employers should identify their frozen E-Verify TNC cases and group them into the three timeframe categories listed above based on the date the case was referred. In their announcement today, USCIS advises employers to review the date on your employee’s original Referral Date Confirmation (RDC) in order to figure out the referral date. Employers using electronic I-9 systems can obtain this information much more easily by generating a report that includes the date the case was referred to E-Verify (a value which is typically stored in most systems).
  3. In today’s announcement, USCIS instructs employers to update the RDC with the adjusted final date of by printing a new ‘Referral Date Confirmation’ notice from the E-Verify system. Alternatively, employers can update the existing RDC manually by crossing out each date and inserting “Final: 09/29/2023.” Note, as of this writing, RDCs from the E-Verify system are still showing the original date SSA TNC due date. It’s unclear whether this will be updated on or after July 15th or some other date.
  4. Draft a standard employee communication (ideally with the help of your counsel) for notifying employees of the resumption of SSA mismatch processing and the preferred dates for them to visit the SSA. Per the USCIS, you may also annotate the preferred dates directly on the RDC.
  5. Lastly, USCIS instructs employers to provide the updated RDC to your employee via email or hard copy.

Dealing with E-Verify cases for terminated employees

Yesterday’s announcement from USCIS did not specifically address how to manage referred SSA TNC mismatches for employees who may no longer be with your organization. Managing terminated employees in E-Verify has been a sore spot for many organizations during the pandemic – primarily because the E-Verify system (as it’s currently designed) does not allow or enable an employer to close, cancel, or otherwise make modifications to a referred TNC.

Instead, these cases simply remain “in the system” until they reach the TNC referral expiration date. And since USCIS will not be enforcing any such dates until September 29, 2023, employers should expect to hold onto these cases for quite a bit longer.

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Have questions about this alert? Please drop us a line. And if you’d like to learn more about the Guardian Electronic I-9 and E-Verify system which simplifies and standardizes I-9 compliance, you can contact us here.


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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