When you are an employer running a U.S. business, you need to comply with multiple immigration laws. First of all, you need to make sure that all of your employees are legally documented workers who are allowed to work in the United States. You also need to learn the ins and outs of I-9 forms, green cards, worker certification, work visas, and more. To help you be compliant, here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
1. Question: How do I verify that an employee is eligible to work in the U.S.?
Several combinations of documents are required as legally acceptable identification. On the I-9 form, there is a list of documents that are acceptable. These documents fall into three categories and are grouped on List A, List B, and List C. To be deemed eligible, an employee must produce one document from List A to prove both identity and eligibility, or one from List B that proves identity and one from List C that establishes eligibility.
2. Question: Can employers verify employment eligibility through an online system?
Yes. Employers may use the E-Verify system to establish employment eligibility. To use this system, employers must enroll and sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration. After new-hires complete their I-9 forms, employers sign in to a DHS website and put in workers’ names, social security numbers, and dates of birth. The system will respond with notification of authorization or request that employees contact SSA or DHS to provide additional information.
3. Question: What are some common reasons that the E-Verify system would not authorize an employee?
When employees aren’t immediately verified in the system, it’s often because of a discrepancy between their names and social security numbers. If the SSNs and names match what is already in the system, the authorization will take place immediately. However, if they don’t match, there will be further documentation requested. If there is a question about whether someone is eligible to work in the United States, the worker in question will need to report to DHS to take care of the mix-up. Often, issues are cleared up within a week of submitting paperwork, but sometimes the situation takes longer to sort out.
4. Question: Can employers ask job applicants for their immigration status?
Employers may inquire whether a candidate is authorized to work in the U.S. or will need sponsorship. Job applicants shouldn’t be rejected for jobs based on citizenship, however, or the employer may be accused of discrimination based on citizenship, which is a violation.
5. Question: What should an employer do if an employee presents a document that seems counterfeit?
If a document appears to be a fake or someone else’s, an employer has the right to reject it. Each worker’s documents must be put through the same level of scrutiny, no matter his or her country of origin or citizenship status. When documents are rejected, workers have the right to produce alternate ones. If an employer refuses to consider alternate documents, he or she may be subject to discrimination charges.
6. Question: How do employers sponsor employees for green cards?
Non-citizens can obtain green-card status in several ways in addition to through their employers, including, for example, political asylum, family connections, and adoption. To sponsor an employee, employers must meet alien labor standards. Often, workers who apply for employment-based green cards are already visa-enabled employees of the company. To meet the standards, employers must prove that there is a shortage of applicants in the U.S. by submitting a certification to the Department of Labor.
Employers must adhere to current immigration laws when running their U.S. companies. Although many of the laws have become stricter, online capabilities have made some of the processes more convenient.
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