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Employment Visa Eligibility FAQ

Do U.S. citizens still have to prove to employers that they are eligible to work in the country?

Yes. U.S. citizens and nationals automatically are eligible to work in the U.S., but they still must present proof of eligibility and identity. As with foreign nationals, U.S. citizens and nationals must also complete an Employment Eligibility Verification form (Form I-9, PDF). For purposes of employment eligibility, U.S. citizens include those born in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam; U.S. nationals include those born in American Samoa (including Swains Island).

Are employers required to complete an Employment Eligibility Verification form for each individual who applies for a job?

No. Only those who are hired are subject to eligibility verification requirements. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines "hired" as the point at which a new employee begins working for compensation.

What is remuneration?

Remuneration is food, lodging or anything else of value given to an employee in exchange for work. Employers must complete a Form I-9 for anyone hired to work in return for wages or other remuneration.

Can an employee who fails to produce documentation, as required by Form I-9, be fired?

Yes. The employee has three business days from the start of employment in which to produce the required documents before he or she may be terminated. An employee whose documents are destroyed, stolen or lost must obtain a receipt for replacement documents within three days (and has 90 days in which to present the actual documents).

What if the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (BICE) finds out that an employee is not authorized to work, but the employer properly completed a Form I-9?

The employer may not knowingly continue to employ this person. However, the employer will not be charged with a verification violation as long as the Employment Eligibility Verification form was completed in good faith. If government officials can prove that the employer had knowledge of the employee's status, then the employer faces penalties.

Is the employer responsible for the authenticity of documents produced for the completion of Form I-9?

To a certain extent, yes. The employer must accept any documentation that reasonably appears on its face to be genuine and representing the new hire. To further scrutinize documentation beyond this standard could be characterized as an unfair immigration-related employment practice.

Are photocopies of documents valid, with respect to the completion of Form I-9?

No. Only original documents may be accepted, with the exception of a certified copy of a birth certificate.

Employment Visa Eligibility: Related Resources

If you want to continue researching this topic, click on the links below to learn more.

Are You Eligible for an Employment Visa? An Attorney Can Help

After reading this article, you likely have questions about the law and procedures to follow should you or someone you know be in the process of obtaining an employment-related visa. And since every case is different, it's in your best interests to seek assistance from a local immigration attorney.

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