Remember to always check your new employee’s immigration status…
In our highly-regulated society, it is hard for the business owner to keep track of all the laws that apply to them. For this reason, I wanted to point out a law which is many times overlooked by small business owners, but can create huge problems for businesses.
I am talking about the requirement that all business owners verify that their employees have an immigration status that legally allows them to work. Generally this means that employees who were not born in the U.S. must provide proof of one of the following types of employment authorization: 1) Certificate of Naturalization (showing they have gained citizenship); 2) a Legal Permanent Resident Card, commonly known as a “Green Card” (which shows that they have gained legal permanent resident status, a rung below full citizenship); 3) an EAD (Employment Authorization Document); or 4) an OPT Card (for students who are utilizing the opportunity to work one year with only a few strings attached after they graduate from an American University). The instructions for the I-9 (see link below) give a detailed list of which documents are required, and in what combination.
It is extremely important that small business owners get copies of these documents and fill out an I-9 Form (found here) within 3 days of the beginning of employment. Employers must keep these I-9′s on file for many years in case they are ever audited. There can be STIFF penalties for failing to do so, and for willful violators, there can even be criminal sanctions. The requirements for employers and an explanation of the system are found here.
One last thing to note. The government just changed the look and feel of the “Green Cards.” While these cards have not been green for a long time (causing a great deal of confusion), the United States Customs and Immigration Service has now redesigned them to not only be more counterfeit-proof, but also, logically, green.
If you have any questions about Immigration Law, please call our Dallas Immigration Attorneys at 214-236-2712