When you run a small business in the United States, you have a range of job duties, including hiring new employees. Hiring is a multifaceted task that is not as easy as it sounds, because you have to find qualified individuals who are a fit for your company, and they need to be legally eligibility to work in the U.S. Highly qualified individuals come from different nations around the world, as well as in the United States. No matter what each worker’s country of origin, he or she must have proper documentation in order to be employed by you. Here are some frequently asked questions about employment and immigration eligibility.
- Question: How long does an employer have to verify employment eligibility for employees?
- Question: What governmental agency or department handles the verification paperwork?
- Question: How long does the employment verification process take?
- Question: Are employers required to certify authenticity of employees’ documents?
- Question: If an employee completes his or her I-9 form paperwork, and the U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement officials discover he or she isn’t eligible to work in the United States, will the employer be held liable?
- Question: What is reverification of employment eligibility?
- Question: Who decides which documents to provide?
When new workers are hired, an employer has three days to complete I-9 forms to verify eligibility. To do this, new employees must fill out personal information such as their addresses, birthdates, and Social Security numbers. The verification process has recently been streamlined with electronic submissions through a process called E-Verify.
The Department of Homeland Security is the agency that handles immigration paperwork in the workplace, among other related areas. DHS was created after terrorists attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. Its main responsibilities include protecting the U.S. against terrorists, natural disasters, and human-induced accidents. Another governmental agency that is involved in the verification process is the Social Security Administration, which oversees social security numbers.
When I-9 paperwork is filed electronically through E-Verify, the turnaround time for approval can be relatively rapid; sometimes approval occurs immediately. If clarification is needed regarding documents or a new employee’s social security number, it will take longer. Sometimes snags are resolved in just a few days, and other times much longer, depending on what the issue is. Some of the more common holdups involve misalignments with names and social security numbers.
Employers should look over each document to be sure that it appears to be genuine. If documents seem to be authentic, haven’t expired, and pertain to the individual, they are acceptable. Photocopies are not allowable documents in the verification process, although certified copies of birth certificates can be substituted for originals.
As long as employers perform the due diligence of examining identification documents and submitting them to DHS in a timely manner, they will not be held responsible for inadvertently hiring ineligible workers. If a company knowingly employs or continues to employ an ineligible worker, serious consequences can occur.
Reverification is the process of an employer updating documents to make sure an employee is eligible to work. This usually happens when a temporary work authorization expires or is due to expire. As during a worker’s initial verification process, acceptable documents from lists A, B, and/or C must be resubmitted. Employees may provide one document from list A to prove identity and eligibility, or one from list B to authenticate identity and C to prove eligibility.
Employees decide which acceptable documents to produce. Employers cannot mandate that certain documents be used in the verification process; however, they can reject paperwork that appears to be falsified. If workers’ documents are rejected, they have the right to submit alternate paperwork.
Hiring new employees is a big responsibility that employers must take seriously. By complying with U.S. immigration laws regarding employment, employers can avoid sanctions and other ramifications.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.