Immigration Law: What Are an Employer’s Immigration Obligations?

You may think the following U.S. Immigration Law is mostly the responsibility of the individual immigrant. It is true that immigrants must keep their visas current and may suffer serious penalties if they stay in the country without the right authorization. However employers also have important obligations under U.S. Immigration Law.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 requires that employers verify that their employees are authorized to work in the United States. Employers must check the work authorization of every new employee, whether or not the employee is an immigrant. But, the requirements apply only to true employees and not to independent contractors.

Immigration Law and Employers

To check the status of new works, employers complete a Form I-9, also called an Employment Eligibility Verification Form. Form I-9 is two-pages long as consists of three different sections. The employee completes Section 1 of the form on his first day of work. This section asks for basic personal information and immigration status. The employee shows that the listed information is true by presenting documents that prove identity and employment authorization. A variety of types of documents can be used including passport, green card, employment authorization document or a combination of several documents.

Next, the employer examines the employee’s documents and fills in the relevant information in Section 2 of Form I-9 (Immigration Law). Section 3 is only completed in the case of reverification and rehires.

Form I-9 contains detailed instructions on how to complete it. A recent change to the form makes the instructions even clearer. However, because completing Form I-9 correctly is the employer’s obligation, you should consult a lawyer specialized in Immigration Law if you have questions about verification of work authorization.

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Your Immigration Lawyer
Alice Antonovsky
New York, NY