How To Secure Authorization To Work In The US?

How To Secure Authorization To Work In The US?

How To Secure Authorization To Work In The US?
Sailesh Sitaula

If you're a foreign national seeking employment in the United States, obtaining proper authorization is crucial. The Federal Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) mandates that all new employees provide proof of their legal eligibility to work in the country. There are serious repercussions for breaking these rules, such as fines or even jail time.

This article aims to provide an overview of the process, requirements, and documentation needed to secure your right to work in the US.

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Understanding the I-9 Form

The I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification Form is a crucial document that all employers in the United States must complete for every new employee, regardless of their citizenship or immigration status.

As a new hire, you must complete the employee's portion of the I-9 form on or before your first day of employment. You will have three business days to present your employer with acceptable documentation establishing your identity and employment authorization.

Acceptable Documents for Employment Eligibility Verification

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), formerly the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), regularly updates the list of acceptable documents for employment eligibility verification. These documents are divided into two categories: those that establish both identity and employment authorization (List A) and those that establish identity only (List B) or employment authorization only (List C).

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List A Documents (Establish Both Identity and Employment Authorization)

  • Unexpired U.S. passport
  • Unexpired foreign passport with a temporary I-551 stamp or annotation
  • Unexpired Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card (I-766)
  • Unexpired Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551, also known as a "Green Card")
  • Unexpired foreign passport with an I-94 arrival/departure record indicating employment authorization

No additional documentation is required if you present a document from List A.

List B Documents (Establish Identity Only)

  • A driver's license or identification card issued by a U.S. state or outlying territory, containing personal details like name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color, and address, along with a photograph.
  • An identification card issued by federal, state, or local government agencies or entities, featuring a photograph and personal information such as name, date of birth, gender, height, eye color, and address.
  • A school-issued identification card with a photograph of the holder.
  • A voter's registration card.
  • A U.S. military card or draft record.
  • An identification card for a military dependent.
  • A U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Card.
  • A Native American tribal document.
  • A driver's license issued by a Canadian government authority.

List C Documents (Establish Employment Authorization Only)

  • U.S. Social Security account number card (unless the card includes one of the following restrictions: NOT VALID FOR EMPLOYMENT, VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH INS AUTHORIZATION, or VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH DHS AUTHORIZATION)
  • Certification of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of State (Form FS-545 or Form DS-1350)
  • Birth Certificate issued by a U.S. state, county, municipal authority, or outlying possession of the U.S.
  • Native American tribal document
  • U.S. Citizen ID Card (Form I-197)
  • Identification Card for the use of Resident Citizen in the United States (Form I-179)
  • Employment authorization document issued by the Department of Homeland Security

If you present a document from List B and List C, you will have established your identity and employment authorization.

Special Case: Minors (Individuals Under Age 18)

For individuals under the age of 18 who are unable to present any of the listed documents, the following can be accepted as proof of identity:

  • School record or report card
  • Clinic, doctor, or hospital record
  • Day-care or nursery school record

It's important to note that the list of acceptable documents is subject to change, and employers must check for updates from USCIS regularly.

Maintaining Proper Employment Authorization

If your employment authorization is temporary or has an expiration date, it's essential to stay proactive and renew your documentation well before it expires. Failure to maintain proper employment authorization can result in termination of employment or other legal consequences.

For nonimmigrant workers with temporary work visas (such as H-1B, L-1, or E-3), the responsibility falls on both the employer and the employee to ensure timely extension or renewal of the visa. Employers must file the necessary petitions with USCIS before the employee's authorized stay expires.

Permanent residents (Green Card holders) do not need to renew their employment authorization, as their right to work in the United States is permanent. However, they must carry their Green Card as evidence of their status and employment authorization.

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Consequences of Unauthorised Employment

Understanding the severe consequences of working without proper authorization in the United States is crucial. Employers knowingly hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized workers can face substantial fines, criminal prosecution, and even imprisonment.

Unauthorized workers themselves may also face penalties, including potential deportation, inadmissibility for future immigration benefits, and possible criminal prosecution for activities such as document fraud or misrepresentation.

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Securing the right to work in the United States is a critical process that requires careful attention to detail and compliance with federal regulations. Foreign nationals can successfully navigate the process and legally pursue employment opportunities in the country by understanding the requirements, acceptable documentation, and maintaining proper employment authorization. Remember, failure to comply with these regulations can have severe consequences for both employers and employees.

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Why is authorization to work in the US important?

Securing authorization is vital to comply with federal regulations like the IRCA, avoiding potential penalties such as fines, imprisonment, and deportation.

What role does the I-9 Form play in employment eligibility?

The I-9 Form ensures compliance with federal law for all US employers by verifying new hires' identity and employment authorization.

What documents are acceptable for employment eligibility verification?

Acceptable documents, categorized into Lists A, B, and C, establish identity, employment authorization, or both. Examples include passports, driver's licenses, and Social Security cards.

What are the consequences of unauthorized work in the US?

Working without proper authorization can lead to severe penalties for employers and employees, including fines, imprisonment, and deportation.

How can minors prove their identity for employment eligibility?

Minors can provide alternative proofs of identity, like school or clinic records, if they can't present the listed documents. However, maintaining proper documentation is crucial to avoid complications.

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