Complying with Immigration Law

Indian talent especially in the field of engineering and lately, management is sought by international firms. The United States, United Kingdom, Middle East and Far East countries are the favorite destination for Indian employees. Indian companies also recruit in India for international placements. Each country has restrictions about employment of foreign citizens and HR managers need to understand the legalities that trade involved in this process.

Under the Immigration reform and Control act of 1986, employees hired in the United States must prove they are eligible to work in the United States. A person does not have to be a US citizen to be employable. However, employers should ask a person they’re about to hire whether he or she is a US citizen or an alien lawfully authorized to work in the United States. To comply with this law, employers should follow procedures outlined in Figure below:

Figure Procedure in Complying with Immigration Law

1) Hire only citizens and aliens lawfully authorized to work in the US.
2) Advise all new job applicants of your policy.
3) Require all new employees to complete and sign the verification form (the I-9 form) designated by the Immigration and Naturalization service (INS) to certify that they are eligible for employment.
4) Examine documentation presented by new employees, record information about the documents on the verification form, and sign the form.
5) Retain the form for three years or for one year past the employment of the individual, whichever is longer.
6) If requested, present the form for inspection by INS or Department of Labor officers. No reporting is required.


Prospective employees can prove their eligibility for employment in two ways. One is to show a document such as a US passport or alien registration card with photograph that proves both the person’s identity and employment eligibility. Many prospective employees won’t have either of these documents. So, the other way to verify employment eligibility is to see a document that proves that person’s identity, along with a document showing the person’s employment eligibility such as a work permit.

Some documents may be fakes. For example, a few years ago INS agents seized over two million counterfeit documents ranging from green cards and Social Security cards to driver’s licenses, from nine different states. The federal government is tightening restriction on hiring undocumented workers. Realizing that many document (such as Social Security cards) are faked, the government is putting the onus on the employers to make sure who they’re hiring. The Department of Homeland Security recently began pressing criminal charges against suspected employer violators.

Employers protect themselves in several ways. Systematic background checks are the most obvious Pre-employment screening should include employment verification, criminal record checks, drug screens, and reference checks. You can verify Social Security cards by calling the Social Security Administration. Employers can avoid accusations of discrimination by verifying the document of all applicants, not just those they may think suspicious.


Employers should not use the so called I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form to discrimination based on race or country of national origin. The requirement to verify eligibility does not provide any basis to reject an applicant just because he or she is a foreigner, or not US citizen or an alien residing in the United States, as long as that person an prove his or her identity an employment eligibility. Since September 11, 2001, there has been a significant rise in allegations of religious and national origin discrimination among both employees and applicants.

Today, almost all travelers who need visas have had to have interviews at their local American consulates. However the Justice Department Appropriations Authorizations bill, signed several years ago, authorizes the Justice Department to fight terrorism, but also actually makes it easier for foreign engineering specialists to get H-1B visas and jobs in the United States.