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All in a Day's Work® - Insights on Labor & Employment Law

E-verify – USCIS now able to “lock” certain social security numbers

On November 18, 2013, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it is taking steps to help employers and employees combat identity fraud by identifying and deterring the fraudulent use of Social Security numbers (SSNs) for employment eligibility verification. This change will only affect employers who are enrolled in the e-verify system.

Under this change, USCIS will have the ability to lock SSNs in e-verify that appear to have been used fraudulently (much like credit card companies can do with credit cards). USCIS stated that it will use a combination of algorithms, detection reports and analysis to identify patterns of fraudulent SSN use and then lock the number in e-verify.

If an employee attempts to use a locked SSN, e-verify will generate a “Tentative Nonconfirmation,” which means the employee’s identity or work authorization could not be confirmed. The employee that receives the Tentative Nonconfirmation will have the opportunity to contest the finding at the local Social Security Administration field office. 

If the employee successfully proves his or her identity matches the locked Social Security number, USCIS will convert the Tentative Nonconfirmation to “Employment Authorized” status in e-verify. However, it is important for employers to remember that they are prohibited from taking adverse action against an employee who has received a Tentative Nonconfirmation. Adverse actions, such as termination, can only be considered after a Final Nonconfirmation is issued by USCIS or a decision is made by the employee not to contest the Tentative Nonconfirmation.

USCIS believes this change to the e-verify system will protect employers from employing individuals who are not work authorized, and help potential employees and other individuals who are the victims of identity theft. USCIS believes the change will deter individuals from using false numbers as well.

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