All employees in the United States are required to have documentation that shows their eligibility to work under U.S. federal and state laws. All employers must ensure their employees provide this documentation, or else they may face penalties for hiring undocumented workers. Not only will employers face penalties, but workers who are working here illegally may face deportation.

To ensure compliance with federal and state laws, employers must request documentation such as the following:

  • Form I-9, which is verification of the employee’s identity and work status;
  • Birth certificate;
  • Driver’s license;
  • Passport;
  • U.S. Social Security card;
  • Income and bank statements; and/or
  • Tax documents

Depending on the documentation provided, workers may need to show a combination of a few of the above. Usually, employers will then submit these documents through the government’s E-Verify system, which is used to confirm a worker’s documentation status.

What are Some Penalties for Hiring Undocumented Workers?

The hiring of undocumented workers is a serious crime. Penalties range from fines and the loss or suspension of a business license, to criminal charges in some cases.

For most businesses, the punishment doesn’t end once the case is over. These consequences will often carryover into the business’ finances through paying off fines and possibly having to close the doors for a certain amount of time.

For employees who are undocumented, their immigration privileges are at risk. In addition to deportation, they may lose the chance to apply for citizenship or for adjustment of status (AOS) to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

How Can I Avoid Employee Documentation Violations?

If you are an employer, it is imperative that adhere to the requirements of Form I-9, and follow-through with the submission process. Form I-9 is the most important employee documentation, and will help cover your interests in case of an audit.

It is also a good idea to thoroughly familiarize yourself with other acceptable documentation. For instance, know the security measures in place with passports, birth certificates, social security cards, and driver’s licenses. If a stamp or seal looks out of place, it may be a fake document. It is much better for you to catch the fraudulent document before the government catches one for you.

If you are an employee, it is in your best interest to submit the documentation that is requested for employment. If you do not have what is being requested, speak with an employment attorney for guidance.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Employee Documentation?

It is important to be and stay compliant with federal and state laws regarding employee documentation. An employment lawyer in your area will be able to advise you of the employment laws in your jurisdiction, and provide guidance for keeping your business compliant. In the event of an employment lawsuit or allegations of wrongdoing, your lawyer will provide legal advice as well as representation in court.