During the presidential campaign this year, we heard a lot of talk about immigrants living in the United States – both legal and illegal. It was a hot topic and even a rallying point on the campaign trail, as “Build the Wall” became a catchphrase.
The focus of that catchphrase, of course, was the problem of illegal immigrants sneaking across the Mexican border into the United States. There’s a lively debate out there about how many illegals really sneak in (not just from Mexico but from all countries) as opposed to those who came here legally and simply outstayed their visas.
However it happens, a large part of the hue and cry by those fed up with illegal immigration is that American jobs get sucked up by people who don’t even belong here – jobs our own citizens desperately need. It’s a problem not only for jobseekers, but also for employers who inadvertently employ them illegally.
Which is why you need an experienced background investigation firm like Hire Authority (www.hireauth.com; 508-230-5901) in your corner. Hire Authority is expert in vetting job candidates to make sure their credentials for legal employment in the U.S. are all in order.
It’s not as easy as it looks.
All Human Resources personnel are familiar with the I-9 Form. It’s the IRS form that all new hires are required to fill out so that their identity and authorization to work in the U.S. can be verified. Easy, right? Again, not always. Their credentials still have to be verified, so what happens if they’re forged or black market fakes? How can you know that what they present passes the IRCA requirements?
This brings up another scenario: what if you’re not sure about a job applicant’s status, so you turn her down, only to discover later that she was legal? The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) makes it illegal to discriminate with respect to hiring based on citizenship or immigration status. In other words, you can’t hire only U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents; you must consider qualified legal foreign nationals, too. The result of our scenario: you may have just opened a serious can of worms.
The flipside is true, also. The IRCA bans employers from favoring temporary visa holders or undocumented workers over qualified U.S. citizens, refugees or individuals granted asylum.
It’s not just the who and what that are important. The how and when can be tricky, too. For example, did you know you are forbidden by the IRCA to verify a person’s eligibility before they are offered employment? On the other hand, it is okay to let them know ahead of time that they will be required to verify their eligibility if hired. In fact, the EEOC recommends it, and has even provided a suggested notice for employment applications:
“In compliance with federal law, all persons hired will be required to verify identity and eligibility to work in the United States and to complete the required employment eligibility verification document form upon hire.”
The bottom line is that verification of eligibility, legality and qualification for employment in the U.S. under state and federal law can be daunting. An oft-quoted example is the job applicant who has an obvious foreign accent and a resume filled with overseas employment. This is where employers sometimes get a little antsy about credentials. But that doesn’t mean the person is not qualified to work in the U.S., whether temporarily or permanently.
On the other hand, this last scenario brings up a very important point. Verification of foreign employment can be a really daunting task, and requires some expertise to make sure the vetting pans out well. Often, the verification of foreign employment goes hand in hand with IRCA eligibility.
One last point needs to be made, and that’s with regard to refugees. Immigrants fleeing war-torn regions were another focus of the campaign this year, which also highlights the complexities of background verification methods. Many of these refugees are eager to work and earn their way, yet because of their quick flight or loss of their property many lack solid credentials. Still, these hardworking individuals can be vetted with the help of an expert background investigation firm.
Just like all anti-discrimination laws, pitfalls abound when dealing with questions of immigration status. That’s why it’s sensible to have a background investigation firm such as (www.hireauth.com; 508-230-5901) on board.
The Hire Authority is there to help your company match talent to position safely and securely… without running afoul of federal and state law.
The foregoing should not be construed as legal advice. Employers should always consult their own legal counsel for advice on labor and employment matters.
Author: Michael Cormier