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The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) was passed in 1986. The act prohibits employers from knowingly hiring, recruiting, and referring illegal aliens for work in the United States, either because the individual is in the country illegally, or because his or her immigration and residency status does not allow employment.

Also, the law extends to employers who, after the date of hire, find an employee to be an illegal alien and continue to employ such an individual. ALL EMPLOYERS ARE REQUIRED BY LAW TO VERIFY THAT ALL EMPLOYEES HIRED ON OR AFTER NOVEMBER 6, 1986 ARE LEGALLY AUTHORIZED TO WORK IN THE UNITED STATES.

This law applies to organizations of any size and of any number of employees. It is applicable to part-time employees and includes domestic help and farm laborers. The only exception is for the employee classification of "casual" hire where a true employer/employee relationship does not exist.

The act requires that when an applicant is hired, an I-9 form must be completed. This form certifies the applicant's identity and their eligibility to work in the United States. The form must be completed within three working days from the date of hire. Except, if the employee submits a receipt showing that they have applied for a particular verification document, an additional 21 days are allowed to produce such documents.

The only other exception is for employees who have resigned or have been terminated. In the event of their rehire, within three years from the date of their previous I-9 form, it is not necessary to complete another. Employers must retain the form for either, three years after the employee's date of hire, or, for one year after the termination or resignation of an employee - whichever is longer.

Employers often violate the act by only asking for identification from people of color; applicants with obvious cultural, language, speech, and accent differences; or another arbitrary "noticeable" difference. The law clearly requires an employer to request and verify documents from all applicant and employees, whether the employer suspects an individual may be an illegal alien, or it is obvious that an individual is not.

Form I-9 requires the employer to do the following: Have the employee sign the I-9;
Examine it to make sure it is properly completed and legible;
Examine the employee's documents establishing identify and eligibility and make a reasonable assessment as to their genuineness or validity;
Complete the verification section recording which documents were presented by the employee;
Attest to the fact that upon examination of the documents, the employee is eligible for employment.

The employer's good faith effort in complying with the verification and record keeping requirements, ensure a defense if any charges surface that the organization knowingly and willingly hired an illegal alien.

Often, there is confusion among employers as to what determines or verifies identify and employment eligibility. Some documents verify both identity and employment eligibility; some documents verify identify only; and, others verify employment eligibility only. If an individual cannot produce a document that verifies both, they must produce one that verifies identity and one that verifies employment eligibility as determined by the following.

DOCUMENTS THAT ESTABLISH IDENTITY AND EMPLOYMENT ELIGIBILITY

DOCUMENTS THAT ESTABLISH IDENTITY ONLY

DOCUMENTS THAT ESTABLISH EMPLOYMENT ELIGIBILITY

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