IMMIGRATION LAW REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS « Law Offices of Timothy Bowles | Top Employment Law Firm in Los Angeles


Federal law requires every employer hiring any individual in the United States to verify the prospect’s identity and employment authorization through completion of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

An employer must complete an I-9 form for every person hired,  even if there’s just one employee in the business.   It is improper for a company to only require forms for those whose ethnicity management might assume indicates a higher possibility of unauthorized status.  An employer also cannot base a hiring decision (or any employment decision) on a person’s ethnicity.  See, “National Origin Discrimination.

I-9 forms can be obtained from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website.  Employers can also use the website’s free e-verify system.
A company need not complete an I-9 form for an independent contractor.  However,  managers must take care not to mislabel or mistake a true employee as an independent.

Complaints about employing illegal workers may prompt an investigation from the U.S. Department of Labor or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).  An employer can be fined and otherwise sanctioned for:  i) knowingly hiring an undocumented worker; or ii) unknowingly hiring an undocumented worker if a reasonable person would believe the employee was illegally employed.

Thus, if an applicant provides information and documents which, on their face, appear valid and consistent, an employer has no obligation to investigate further.  On the other hand, an employer must probe further if the documentation or other information supplied appears suspect, for example, obvious forgery or contradictory statements from the prospect.

For assistance complying with U.S. immigration laws for your business, contact an attorney experienced in immigration and employment.