Wolfsdorf Rosenthal LLP

DHS Rescinds ‘No-Match’ Rules


Effective November 6, 2009, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is rescinding the final rules (PDF) it promulgated in 2007 and 2008 relating to procedures that employers may take to acquire a safe harbor from receipt of “no-match” letters, which the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends to employers when the combination of an employee name and social security number does not match SSA records. DHS proposed to rescind the no-match rules on August 19, 2009, and is issuing this final rule without change.

Implementation of the 2007 final rule was preliminarily enjoined by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on October 10, 2007. After further review, DHS said it will focus its enforcement efforts relating to the employment of unauthorized workers on improved verification, including participation in E-Verify, the ICE Mutual Agreement Between Government and Employers (IMAGE), and other programs. DHS said that IMAGE is “designed to help the business community develop and implement hiring and employment verification best practices.”

USCIS said that “[t]hese tools focus on more universal compliance with the employment eligibility verification requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act than a safe harbor procedure for a limited number of employers who receive a No-Match letter.” The agency said that a no-match letter is “reactive, either one specifically guided to the employment eligibility issue from ICE or one indirectly pointing to a potential employment eligibility issue through social security number record mismatches on tax filings through SSA.”

DHS also noted that “unscrupulous employers would continue to find ways to take advantage of the system, regardless of whether the No-Match rules were in place.” The agency said it focuses criminal and civil enforcement efforts against “the most egregious violators: employers who use unauthorized workers in order to gain a competitive advantage or those who exploit the vulnerable, often engaging in human trafficking and smuggling, identity theft, and social security number and document fraud”; and “employers in the Nation’s critical infrastructure sites, including airports, seaports and power plants.”

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