All United States employers must verify that employees, regardless of citizenship or national origin, are authorized to work in the U.S. Generally, employers are required to verify work authorization for new employees within three days of hire.
This requirement raises some questions that all employers must face. First, what are the steps necessary to verify employment authorization? Second, if the employee does not have proper documentation, and employer wishes to sponsor work authorization, what are the necessary steps?
Federal law allows an employer several options when sponsoring an employee for work authorization. Some categories include skilled workers, intra-company transferees, specialty occupations, and treaty traders. Currently, unskilled workers are not included on this list. Fortunately, recent news from the federal government hints that guest workers might be added soon.
With regard to verification of existing work authorization, you should note that, on March 8, 2013, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a new I-9 (Employment-Verification-Eligibility) Form. Consequently, employers should be sure to put procedures into place that address changes in the form, provide training, and anticipate questions.
Advice: Employers should familiarize themselves with categories that provide work authorization and the procedures for verification. Also, as a part of due diligence, they should consider taking time to conduct audits of existing I-9 forms to determine whether compliance requirements have been met consistently over time.
Failure to follow regulations in this area could lead to fines, debarment, or even criminal charges. Your goal should be to follow the law and minimize exposure. The subject matter is complex, so take care and seek competent advice.
Christopher A. Poling and Jeffrey L. Robbins, are attorneys with Lewis & Kappes, PC, with local offices in Indianapolis and Zionsville