Employers have been receiving no-match letters from the Social Security Administration for decades, but in recent years the nation’s focus on immigration issues has led to a climate of uncertainty when it comes to what those letters mean for I-9 compliance. By understanding how to do due diligence concerning these letters and properly utilize digital I-9 software, employers can breathe a sigh of relief and may have more confidence in compliance throughout the process.
What Getting a No-Match Letter from the SSA Could Mean
The first step in understanding no-match letters from the Social Security Administration is considering the possible causes. A no-match letter is generally sent when there is a name and social security number mismatch.
While it may be instinct for an employer to be alarmed, it is important to do a little more digging first as a no-match letter does not necessarily mean an employee is not authorized for employment. Some of the most common reasons for a no-match letter to be sent from the Social Security Administration can include:
- Typographical errors
- Incomplete employer records
- An unreported name change
- Identity theft
Despite the number of often simple errors that can cause a no-match letter to be sent, it can open up an employer to I-9 compliance issues. For example, in the event of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) audit or raid, the organization can request a record of no-match letters the employer has received.
No-match letters from the Social Security Administration cannot always be avoided, however, it is how an employer responds to that letter can potentially impact a company’s compliance status.
What Not to Do When an Employer Gets a No-Match Letter
Receiving the no-match letter is typically not as life altering as how an employer responds to the letter, therefore it is crucial to start with what not to do.
Two common scenarios that employers should avoid at all costs can include:
- Starting over with the Form I-9 process. This is not a good idea and can cause a company a whole host of new problems in an ICE audit or raid.
- Reacting swiftly to a no-match letter without researching first. Because no-match letters can sometimes be triggered by simple errors, it is imperative that employers not immediately dismiss an employee solely because of the letter. Doing so could result in the employer being sued for discrimination.
Once employers understand how not to handle the receipt of a no-match letter, the focus must shift to what employers should do.
What to Do When an Employer Gets a No-Match Letter
Whatever steps are taken in response to the receipt of a no-match letter can definitively impact a company’s compliance status. For that reason, there are a few important considerations to review before proceeding.
- Go online to the Social Security Administration’s business services system and register in an effort to resolve the mismatch. The employer’s goal should be to rectify the situation within sixty days. This step is vital to prove that after receiving a no-match letter the employer acted in good faith. This action is generally looked favorably upon in the event of an ICE audit or raid.
- Compare the listed social security number with employment records to look for possible typographical errors.
- If employment records match the information the employer submitted, let the employee in question know about the snag. Ask the employee to double check the social security card for any inaccuracies between it and employer records.
- If the employee’s social security card matches employer records, it may be prudent to ask the employee to work directly with the Social Security Administration to resolve the issue.
- An employee with new documents should submit them directly to the Social Security Administration. In addition, the employer should also submit those document corrections to the organization.
- In the case that an employee is not able to provide a valid social security number, it is critical for the employer to document all efforts made to resolve the situation to prove they acted in good faith. This last step could make all the difference when it comes to an ICE audit.
How Digital I-9 Software Can Help
Employers that choose to enlist the help of digital I-9 software may find the no-match letter procedure easier to navigate with the help of digitized documents. The software is designed to be user friendly and minimize common Form I-9 errors that can affect compliance.
The program can detect incomplete or blank fields and missing signatures, all of which can create headaches for employers if they are not caught before submitting the form.
In addition, a reputable digital I-9 software should interface with the federal E-Verify program. This valuable connection may help speed up the process of finding social security number issues since it utilizes records from the Social Security Administration to confirm an employee’s identity.
No-match letters from the Social Security Administration are not something for an employer to fret over, but how the employer chooses to respond to the letter is critical.