As as business owner or manager, it’s important to be sure that your hiring practices comply with immigration law. If you hire someone who is not authorized to work in the United States, that can make you subject to fines and other penalties.
How do you know if you’re hiring someone who is legally authorized to work? Generally, if you hire a U.S. Citizen or a “green card” holder, you do not have to worry about sponsorship or other issues involving immigration. Other individuals, however, will need extra documentation and/or assistance to demonstrate their ability to work in the United States.
Here’s what you need to do make sure you’re compliant.
Be careful about what questions you ask.
Directly asking someone if he is a U.S. Citizen is not allowed under the Immigration Reform and Control Act, and you can severely penalized for such action. You can, however, ask the person if she is legally able to work in the U.S.
Complete an I-9 for each employee.
The I-9 form documents the evidence the applicant provided to show authorization to work, as well as what you did to verify the evidence. You must complete this form within three days of an individual’s first day of employment.
Be sure you understand which documents you need.
You need to verify both an employee’s identity and his eligibility to work. Different documents fulfill different purposes. A valid, unexpired U.S. passport proves both identity and eligibility to work. A social security card proves eligibility to work but doesn’t prove identity. Be sure you have the right combination of documents to prove both but never require more than is necessary to complete the form. As always, we are happy to help you wade through the I-9 process.
Expect workplace enforcement.
The relevant government agencies can conduct inspections at your place of business. You generally need to keep documentation relating to the verification process for at least three years after an employee has been hired or a year after an employee leaves, whichever is later. This can create an organizational challenge, but it’s critical that you remain compliant.
Immigration law is complex, especially when it intersects with employment law. There are a number of relevant laws which must be considered, and making matters worse, the relevant government agencies often don’t communicate smoothly with each other.
To learn more about this subject, and for help creating employment policies and procedures which will keep you out of trouble, please get in touch with me today!