The USCIS recently announced an "enhancement" to the E-Verify program that it says will help combat fraud by identifying and deterring the fraudulent use of Social Security Numbers ("SSNs") for employment verification. The USCIS now will lock SSNs in E-Verify once they are used in connection with a Form I-9. If an employee attempts to use a locked SSN, E-Verify will send a Tentative Nonconfirmation ("TNC") to the employer. The employee then must contest the finding at a local SSA office. If an SSA officer confirms the employee's identity correctly matches the SSN, the TNC will be converted into "Employment Authorized" status in E-Verify.
It is important for both employers and employees to take notice of this change. Employer enrollment in E-Verify has more than doubled in the last five years, with nearly 500,000 employers now participating in the program. In 2013 alone, employers used E-Verify to authorize nearly 25 million employees. As new states mandate the use of E-Verify and its use becomes more commonplace, employers can expect an increase in TNCs for those employees whose SSNs may have been stolen by others. While this may have a positive result in the long run by advising the new employee of the theft, these TNCs also will place an increased administrative burden on the employer to resolve.