U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services this week announced an “enhancement” to the E-Verify system that employers use to confirm that new employees have authorization to work in the United States. It has created more frustration than anything. The update to the system is to accept only an “Unrestricted Social Security Number” when entering the new employee’s information into the online system. As a result, the system now will reject any worker in the United States with a temporary visa, such as F-1 students, E, H, L, or O workers, and others. All of those workers receive Social Security cards with the restrictive language: “Valid only with DHS authorization.”

The result of this “enhancement” is that E-Verify is not functional for any authorized worker who has a restricted Social Security Number. Until now, it always has been the case that employers cannot accept a Social Security card with the restriction to show work authorization. But employers always have needed any valid SSN, restricted or unrestricted, to enter the employee’s information into the E-Verify system.

Through back channels, the American Immigration Lawyers Association has made USCIS aware of the problem that this change has created. USCIS acknowledged as much and informally reported that it is working to resolve the problem.

In the meantime, employers still need to follow the standard I-9 process to document the work authorization of new employees. For any new employee who has a restricted SSN, just place the I-9 in a folder and have it ready to enter into E-Verify once USCIS corrects the SSN glitch. The E-Verify entry likely will be late by that time, so the employer can choose the “Technical Difficulty” reason to explain the late submission.