Top Five Mistakes Made By Employers Hiring Immigrants

In hiring immigrants, there are a host of mistakes that employers can make. Depending upon the size of the company and the extent of the problem, penalties can range from hefty fines to jail time. Here are a few of the most common, and

Employing Unauthorized Workers

Whether it's intended to evade taxes on employee wages or simply not properly checking an employee's background to ensure they are eligible for employment, hiring unauthorized workers is a huge no no. Under section 274 of federal Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a person or organization commits a federal felony when he or she encourages an illegal alien to remain in the U.S. by acting as an employer or referring him or her to an employer. No matter what the reason, employing an illegal immigrant is against federal law.

Non Compliance With State Employment Laws

In addition to federal laws, each state has it's own set of laws and regulations in regards to employing immigrants. Often times, employers will follow federal guidelines but are unaware of and fail to meet those of the state they do business in. For example, some states require E-Verify background checks for all employers while others have no requirement at all. Such difference can sometimes lead to confussion and costly mistakes.

Citizinship Discrimination

According to the INA, employers may not treat individuals any differently because they are, or are not, U.S. citizens or work authorized individuals. This protection covers asylees, refugees, U.S. citizens, recent permanent residents, and temporary residents. Citizenship status discrimination can manifest itself in a number of ways. An obvious example came last year, when a company posted 6 jobs online explicitly stating citizenship status preferences or requirements that exlcuded work-authorized non-citizens.

Taking Adverse Action For SSA Non Match Letters

The Social Security Administration issues No-Match letters to employers in response to an employee wage report, advising that the name or SSN for one of more employees doesn not "match" the combination in their records. However, receipt of such a letter does not, in itself, make a statement of the employee's immigration status. Therefore, it should not prompt adverse action, such as termination. Instead, employers are urged to:

  • Check their own records to ensure the information was documented properly
  • Inform the employee of the issue and advise them to address any discrepency with the SSA
  • Reporting back to the SSA is not necessary, but the employer should take detailed notes of the steps they took
  • If the employee admits to false information, they employer must immediately terminate the employee

I-9 Issues

The I-9 document is very important. It verifies that the employee is eligible for employment. Employers are required to complete and retain them for alll employees, citizen and non-citizen. Document abuse is a common issue relating to I-9s. If employers are requesting that certain groups of employees, immigrants for example, produce more documents or a particular document that they do not require other employees to produce, it is considered document abuse. Procedural or technical errors can also lead to penalties and large fines.

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