How to Manage DHS and SSA Tentative Nonconfirmation Properly


Emptech's founder, Jeff Aleixo


Jeffrey Aleixo


As a fast, efficient, and easy-to-use program, E-Verify successfully determines legal employment eligibility in a manner that employers can support. Most of them go through this process easily, but there are some issues that may arise if there is a mismatch of information, resulting in a Tentative Nonconfirmation Notice (TNC).

If you and the employee in question act swiftly, a TNC can be just a small annoyance.

On the other side, failure to take action can lead to serious consequences.

What Is A Tentative Nonconfirmation?

A TNC occurs when there is a mismatch of information recorded on your employee’s Form I-9 and the information in the government databases.

E-Verify compares the information employees provide on Form I-9 and government records maintained by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Social Security Administration (SSA). If the information matches, the employee receives an “Employment Authorized” response in E-Verify. However, if the information does not match government records, E-Verify will display a temporary case status that may require additional action. In these cases, E-Verify returns a TNC response.

There are legitimate reasons why employees may receive a TNC and it does not mean that they are unauthorized to work. As an employer, always take this into consideration and follow the proper procedures in E-Verify, designed to ensure fair treatment for all employees. Also, in the case of a TNC, the law protects employees against any adverse action unless the TNC becomes a Final Nonconfirmation.

Discover the necessary information about employment eligibility verification and find a way to keep your business on the right side of the ever-changing laws.

SSA Tentative Nonconfirmation and DHS Tentative Nonconfirmation

There are two types of Tentative Nonconfirmation Notices (TNCs)  – SSA and DHS.

An E-Verify case can come back as a mismatch with the SSA database if employees have had any changes to their personal information or citizenship/immigration status that have yet to be updated or given to the SSA. It is also possible that the information in the SSA database is incorrect or that an employer made a mistake when entering the information.

The same conditions that could cause an SSA TNC could also lead to a DHS TNC. In addition, an employee’s case may come back as a TNC if there are any mismatches with the employee’s identification or immigration documents. This does not necessarily mean that the documents are forged as it can be triggered by a data entry error somewhere in the process.

Necessary Steps

Both the employer and employee have responsibilities when E-Verify returns a TNC result and need to follow specific steps.

The first thing you should do is check the accuracy of the information you entered. If you notice any data entry errors based on the information your employee gave you in the Form I-9, you will be able to invalidate the query. In case you find that the information was entered correctly after comparing it to the Form I-9, you will need to begin the TNC dispute process.

Begin with notifying the employee of the TNC case in private and present the TNC Further Action Notice. This document explains what a Tentative Nonconfirmation is, how to contest the information, who to contact, and the rights of an employee.

The next step is for the employee to decide whether to contest or not. If the employee chooses to contest, you must initiate a referral in the E-Verify system and provide them with a TNC Referral Letter that is automatically generated. This letter instructs the employee to contact the appropriate government agency (SSA or DHS) within 8 federal government workdays to resolve the case.

While the employee works to resolve the matter, they must be allowed to continue to work. It is important for employers to access the E-Verify system for updates daily as well as to refrain from asking the employee to provide updates during the TNC process.

Eventually, the E-Verify query’s status will change to one of the following:

  • Employment Authorized;
  • No Show;
  • Final Nonconfirmation;
  • Review and update data/resubmit;

If the employee does not contest the TNC, or if the query ultimately results in a Final Nonconfirmation, you must terminate the worker’s employment. Otherwise, your company may face possible fines and penalties for knowingly continuing to employ an unauthorized worker.

Regardless of the final outcome, you must close every case in the E-Verify system.

For Employment Authorized queries, you can simply close the cases in E-Verify, indicating that you continue to employ the individuals. For “Final Nonconfirmation” queries, you must indicate whether the employee was terminated.

Tips to Avoid A Tentative Nonconfirmation

While TNCs cannot always be avoided, there are a few things that you can do as an employer to reduce the chances of receiving them.

Form Accuracy

When completing Form I-9, make sure that the information entered by the employee is correct. Check that the identification documents they provided for Section 2 have the same information as what was given in Section 1.

This helps you to prevent avoidable TNCs and potential fines if your I-9s are audited in the future.

Use this guide to structure and implement I-9 audits in an efficient manner and prevent common risks and pitfalls.

Careful Data Entry

When copying information from the Form I-9, be careful not to make any mistakes in your data entry. If you are processing several cases at the same time, try not to rush through the process. Always remember to double-check the information before submission.

Update Information

If an employee is aware that they have had a change in their information such as their name, citizen/immigration status, or anything else relevant, they should make sure that the information has been conveyed to the proper agencies.

Rely on paperless documentation

Avoid common discrepancies with an electronic I-9 and E-Verify compliance system. Electronic I-9 verification platforms provide proper and complete management of DHS and SSA TNCs as well as the guidance of the referral letter process when an employee contests an E-Verify TNC. I-9 analysts also review Form I-9 and any supporting documents. This ensures that there are no clerical errors or obvious issues that can be resolved, potentially halting the TNC process and preventing any further action.

Although TNCs occur in less than 3% of all cases that are submitted, it is natural for employers to be concerned about the process and the impact it may have on employees. While it may not happen often, there are some helpful tactics for speeding up the process, ensuring I-9 compliance, and avoiding the situation altogether.

By carefully entering the employee’s information into E-Verify, to begin with, and diligently taking the recommended follow-up actions in the event of a TNC, employers should be confident that their employees are authorized and that they are free from any potential civil or criminal liabilities.

Stay on top of the I-9 process and prevent TNCs by integrating electronic I-9 software that automatically transfers the information from the employee’s electronic Form I-9 to E-Verify. Keep your I-9 management under control, remain compliant, and spare yourself the trouble.

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