I-9 Employer Assistance and Social Security “No-Match” Letters
Pursuant to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), employers may only hire individuals who are authorized by law to work in the United States; for example, U.S. citizens and Green Card holders. The law requires employers to verify the identity and employment eligibility of anyone they wish to hire. This process includes completing the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (Form I-9). Employers must keep each I-9 on file for at least three years, or one year after employment ends, whichever period is longer. E-Verify is an electronic database designed to use the information reported on an employee’s Form I-9 to determine the eligibility of that employee to legally work in the United States. The federal government now requires that all companies use E-Verify in the near future. Under the law, employers who violate E-Verify’s rules may be liable for lost wages and can also incur substantial civil penalties.
While work site raids get a lot of media attention when they take place, the government actually focuses more on document inspections when investigating potential I-9 violations. During an investigation, each I-9 form that an employer has will be carefully scrutinized and any error, regardless of its size, will be penalized with a fine. Most of the companies that were audited and fined last year did not knowingly employ illegal workers; instead, their I-9 forms contained simple errors and they were fined for these.
Social Security “No-Match” Letters
A Social Security “no match” letter puts both the employer and employee on notice that the Social Security Administration (SSA) could not match the employee’s Social Security number to the name listed on the W-2 that the SSA obtained from the employer. The letter does not necessarily mean that the employer or employee purposefully engaged in any wrongdoing. Mistakes such as name changes, typos, and incomplete information are all mistakes that can trigger the issuance of a “no-match” letter. The “no match” letter also does not mean that any adverse action should be taken against the employee. It is simply to notify the employer and employee of the SSA’s inability to match up desired information between the I-9 and W-2.
Employers must be careful how they respond to “no match” letters because a poor response can leave an employer open to criminal and/or civil penalties. For example, ignoring the letter, or failing to comply with a new ruling, can result in thousands of dollars in fines for the employer.
For further guidance on how to respond to “no-match” letters and I-9 disputes, please contact our office to obtain additional information or to schedule an appointment.