On July 1, 2013, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced changes to E-Verify procedures which could lead to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) directly contacting an employee when a query initiated by the employer results in a Tentative Non-Confirmation (TNC).
E-Verify allows employers to input an employee’s I-9 information into the DHS and Social Security Administration (SSA) databases to verify his or her employment eligibility. If the employee’s information does not match DHS or SSA records, a TNC notice will be issued. Previously, the TNC was transmitted only to the employer, who was then required to notify the employee and report the result through the E-Verify database.
The 2013 I-9 form gives employees the option of providing an email address and phone number. E-Verify now requires employers to input the employee’s email address, if one is provided, when entering the employee’s data. Providing an email address remains optional for employees, and employers may not solicit or require email addresses for completion of the I-9 form. Employers must input the email address provided by the employee, even if it is a company email which the employee is not authorized to use for this purpose.
In addition to transmitting the TNC notice to the employer, E-Verify will also notify the employee directly of the TNC. Employers should note that although the employee who chooses to provide an email address on the I-9 will receive notification from DHS, this does not change an employer’s obligation to promptly notify the employee of the TNC, to provide a copy of the notice, and to give information to the employee about contesting the TNC. Employers must allow the employee to continue to work while in the process of contesting the TNC, and may not take any adverse action, such as termination or suspension, until E-Verify shows a Final Non-Confirmation (FNC).
DHS will send out a maximum of three emails to employees. The first email will include information about the no-match, as well as instructions on how the employee should proceed, including the obligation to contact DHS and SSA within eight days. If the employee does not take any action after four days, DHS will send a reminder. In some situations, the employee may receive a third email confirming that the employee has been found to be work-authorized. Employers will not receive copies of these emails and will need to follow the outcome of the TNC through the E-Verify portal.
“It’s unusual for DHS to reach out to employees directly in this manner,” commented Chris Bauer, manager of Immigration Services at MSEC. “This program seems to be directed at a concern on the part of the agencies that employers are not properly notifying employees when the E-Verify query results in a TNC.” She encourages employers with questions to contact her or Sherry Lin in Immigration Services at 1-800-884-1328.