The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is a federal law that deals with virtually every aspect of immigration in the United States. In particular, it addresses immigration issues that apply to employment, including visa quotas, hiring requirements and discrimination issues.
Employers sometimes do not realize that they have violated the INA in their employment practices. Some of the most common violations include the following:
Hiring and terminating based on immigration status
Employers are not permitted to hire U.S. workers exclusively or immigrants exclusively. In fact, other than showing you can work in the United States, immigration status should not be a factor in the hiring process. This includes situations where businesses terminate their employees in favor of hiring immigrants who will work for lower wages on a contract basis.
This practice is discriminatory and results in lower wages for immigrants. It also harms the economy as a whole. If you suspect that this situation is happening to you, contact an immigration attorney immediately to help you address the problem.
Requiring you to obtain citizenship or hold a certain visa
Employers may be wary of hiring immigrants because they fear that they will accidentally violate the law. Their solution, however, is often illegal. Employers can never force an immigrant to obtain citizenship to work for them. In fact, they cannot even require a specific type of visa unless the federal government allows it.
Preferences for those who hold temporary work visas or are US citizens are also illegal. Further, employers cannot refuse to hire you based on a belief that you are an immigrant due to your nationality, appearance, or accent.
Demanding additional documentation to start work other than what is required by law
Certain government forms are required to be completed in order to establish employment eligibility when you take a new position. This also involves the submission of certain documents including, but not limited to, a driver’s license, Social Security card, permanent resident card, work permit, working visa, or US passport. Employers that require additional documentation or documents to prove that you are a citizen or that you are in the United States legally are engaging in an illegal activity.
This type of conduct is often referred to as “document abuse.” If you think this is happening to you, do a simple Internet search for Form I-9 to determine which documents an employer may appropriately ask you to show them. The list is long, but some documents related to immigration do not appear.
Retaliating against a worker who has reported a violation related to immigration
If you realize that your company is engaging in discriminatory practices against US citizens or immigrants, you have the right to report them to the authorities. You can do this anonymously, but even if you do not, your employer cannot retaliate against you based on your report. This includes demotions, moving job locations, or being terminated. Adverse employment actions should not be tolerated in these types of situations.
Even as an immigrant, you have rights in the United States. However, because of your status, it may be intimidating or frightening to assert these rights. An immigration law attorney can be an extremely valuable resource to ensure employers are fair and acting legally. Saleh & Associates deals with immigration issues on a regular basis. We can help. Call our office today to schedule an appointment.