Employers see first return of no-match letters since 2011.white printer paper

This March, the Social Security Administration (SSA) started sending letters to employers whose name and social security number (SSN) for one or more of their employees do not correspond to SSA records, also known as “no-match” letters. No-match letters might come about due to typographical errors, unreported name changes, or inaccurate or incomplete employer records.

Navigating the I-9 process is already complicated, and employers who violate these requirements can face fines and serious criminal charges. While receiving one of these letters isn’t immediate cause for alarm, it certainly is something to take seriously.

Though no-match letters are issued by the SSA, they arose out of I-9 audits by ICE that took place over the past two years and will likely lead to immigration enforcement. Unbeknownst to some employers, these I-9 audits were probably driven by leads that ICE received from various enforcement tools, like undercover work, E-Verify, USCIS application processing, and identity theft complaints. ICE believes that under certain circumstances it can request no-match data from the SSA. While there is a defense to this claim, ICE still may be able to access no-match data during the course of an I-9 audit.

What to do if you receive a no-match letter

 

For Employers

  • Should I respond to the no-match letter?
    • Yes. The new policy gives employers 60 days to respond. As noted above, the discrepancy might just be a typo or an oversight. However, in the case that the letter points to an employee who is unauthorized to work in the U.S., an unaddressed no-match letter can partially show that you had constructive knowledge of the situation, which could lead to criminal prosecution of your corporation, executives, and/or managers.
  • What process should I follow?
    • Check the reported information against your records.
    • Inform the affected employee that you have received a no-match letter.
    • Ask the employee to confirm their name and SSN for your records, and submit any corrections to the SSA.
    • Advise the employee to contact SSA and correct or update their SSA records.
  • What other information do I need to know?
    • Be sure to give the employee a reasonable amount of time to address the no-match with the SSA, but you can also check in on their progress periodically.
    • Do not attempt to request that the employee immediately fill out a new I-9 based on the no-match letter, and do not ask the employee to produce specific I-9 documents.
    • Be sure to follow the same procedures for all employees in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.

For Employees

  • What process should I follow?
    • If you receive a no-match letter at home, do not notify your employer, as your employer might not have received a letter.
    • If your employer informs you that they have received a no-match letter for you, ask for a copy of the letter and your W-2 form.
    • Confirm whether your name and SSN match their records, and provide any corrections to your employer and the SSA, if applicable.
    • Don’t lie. If you showed your employer false ID or work authorization documents when you were hired, do not show these same documents to your employer again, as this can get you in legal trouble.
  • What are my rights?
    • Like all people working in the U.S., you have the right to:
      • Remain silent about your immigration status
      • Work without retaliation
      • Organize with coworkers
      • Be compensated for your work
    • Keep in mind that your employer cannot terminate or suspend you based solely on their receipt of a no-match letter.
    • Your employer also cannot ask you for proof of your immigration status or your eligibility to work based solely on their receipt of a no-match letter.
  • How can I protect myself?
    • First, keep calm and do not quit your job. Remember that receiving a no-match letter does not mean you are unauthorized to work in the U.S.
    • Do not talk to anyone at work about your immigration status, as it could cause legal problems for both you and them.
    • Tell your employer that you want someone else present in meetings about the letter, including a coworker, community advocate, or union representative.
    • Reach out to a community organization, like the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, for support.
    • If you’re part of a union, contact your union representative right away, as you may have additional rights as a union member.
    • Click here to see the National Immigration Law Center’s “Know Your Rights” web page.
 

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