Immigration compliance is a huge problem in all sectors. This is leaving them facing allegations of employing undocumented or illegal workers. Under immigration rules, employers are obligated to try and prevent employing illegal workers. Businesses that breach these rules and employ illegal workers will face serious penalties.
The phrase “illegal immigrants” doesn’t just refer to stowaways at ports. It refers to anyone who has not been given leave to enter or remain in the country. Therefore, this includes people who have entered the country with a visa but have overstayed.
Within a business, “illegal immigration” refers to anyone who is subject to immigration control and anyone who has been disqualified from working due to this. An illegal immigrant can be a person who leaves to enter or stay in the country is invalid. They might also be classed as one if their leave is subject to stopping the person from doing that kind of work, or their leave no longer has an effect.
How to Avoid Employing Undocumented/Illegal Workers
While carrying out checks on an employee’s documentation, you should follow these steps:
- Complete – Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act, employers are expected to complete and file an I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification form for every new employee. This includes obtaining certain documents that prove their employee is eligible to work in the US. If you are worried about whether you have the correct documentation, then contact an expert in business immigration, such as Hirson Law.
- Obtain – Make sure you obtain an original document or a selection of documents that comply with the approved list.
- Check – Ensure you ensure that the documents are valid.
- Copy – Make and retain (securely) a clear copy of any documentation provided. Ensure that these copies are in a format that cannot be altered.
- Record – Make a record of when you conducted your check. You could hold a separate record of this or make a dated declaration on the original copy.
- Retain – Make sure you keep any copies for the duration of your employee’s employment, and for another 2 years after they have left your company. These documents may need to be shown to business immigration officials if they believe you have employed illegal workers.
Checking Document Validity
When making sure the documents provided are valid as proof of a potential employee’s right to work, you should make sure that:
- The documents provided are original, genuine and haven’t been altered.
- The person providing you with the documents is the same as the person pictured.
- The dates of birth and photographs are identical across all documents and with the person’s appearance.
- The expiry date for their right to work in the U.S. has not passed and they are allowed to undertake that type of work. You should also look to see if there is a limit on the number of hours they are allowed to work.
- If the documentation does not match, make sure they have an explanation as to why. Ask for more documentation to explain any differences such as divorce decrees or a marriage certificate.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to be an expert in spotting fraudulent documentation. If a worker gives you false documentation, you will only face a penalty if it is obvious that it was fraudulent.
It is a business’s responsibility to make sure that they perform documentation checks. You cannot pass this responsibility on to third-party companies such as recruitment agencies. If you have asked a third party to do this, you won’t have an excuse if you are found to be employing illegal workers.
The U.S. government has greatly increased the number of workplace investigations into illegal workers. These investigations have led to an increase in the number of businesses receiving penalties for employing illegal immigrants. In order to avoid these penalties, it may be a good idea to consult a lawyer who specializes in business immigration. They will be able to help you review your current systems and documentation so that you are prepared for any eventuality. Remember, don’t panic, as long as you’ve checked your employees’ documentation thoroughly, and there are no obvious problems with it, you will be fine.