Hiring an Immigrant? What Employers Need to Know

When filling an open role on your staff, you might find a perfect candidate who is fully qualified, fits your company culture and would make a great addition to your team.

But, there’s one potential complication – they are an immigrant.

Fortunately, this doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for this candidate. It just means you need to make sure they are authorized to work in the U.S. and that you collect the right documentation for them.

How To Legally Verify They Are Authorized To Work in the U.S.

When hiring an immigrant, you must verify they are legally eligible to work in the United States. As an employer, the U.S. government holds you responsible for enforcing immigration laws when hiring employees. As part of this, you need to have every new hire complete Form I-9.

You will need to ensure each of your employees falls into one of these categories to be legally hired:

  • A U.S. citizen
  • A noncitizen national of the U.S.
  • A lawful permanent resident
  • A foreign national who has been authorized to work in the U.S. until a certain date

The documents your employees provide while completing Form I-9 will reveal which category they fall into. Specific documentation and identifications need to be provided when completing the Form I-9. Acceptable documentation and identification your employees may present can be found in the instructions to the Form I-9.

What You Can’t Do When Hiring an Immigrant

When interviewing and considering prospective candidates for employment, there are certain actions you should  avoid.

For one, you cannot show a preference for one of the above listed four classes of legal workers. If they fall into one of those four categories, they are eligible for employment. Excluding a candidate due to which category they fall under can be considered discrimination. On the Form I-9 there is a Anti-Discrimination Notice warning against not accepting a certain type of identification or discriminating against a candidate based on the form of documentation they presented.

What If They Can’t Legally Work In the U.S.?

If a job candidate does not currently have authorization to work in the United States, it may be possible for the employer to sponsor the candidate so they can work or the employer.

Some options may include:

  • Sponsor them for a green card: Depending on how much time, money, and effort you are willing to put into hiring this candidate, sponsoring them for a green card is one option thay may be available to get them authorized to work in the U.S.
  • Pursue a temporary work visa: Certain jobs may qualify for a work visa. You need to prove that this person needs to be hired, despite their non-citizenship, and that you cannot fill the spot with a U.S. citizen. This can eliminate most jobs from temporary work visa eligibility.

 Why You Need an Immigration Attorney

When hiring an attorney, there are certain documents you need to submit, and procedures you need to follow. Failure to do so can result in penalties for your company. To avoid any issues, hire an immigration attorney to walk you through the process and ensure you are not discriminating against any prospective employees.

Why Hire Us

When considering hiring an immigrant at your company, get help from the experts at Johnstone Adams LLC.

Ranked in the 2023 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” list regionally in 12 practice areas, we have experts in many areas of law to give our clients top-notch representation. In business for more than a century, our firm can mix its experience with the ability to evolve with the changing times.

To get started, contact us at 251-319-4659 or info@johnstoneadams.com.

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