Employment Law Basics: The Immigration Reform and Control Act

Employment laws can be confusing and downright scary.

They don’t have to be. As a public service, from now until my special Halloween webinar Answers to the World’s Scariest Employment Law Questions, I’ll be tackling each major law one by one to give you what you REALLY need to know. By the end, you’ll have handy one-page cheat sheets for each and every law and your terror level will be reduced to zero.

Today’s Topic: the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).

Here is basically everything you need to know about the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) in one handy post.


Who’s covered?

All employers and employees.

What does it prohibit?

  • Employment of individuals who are present in the U.S. without authorization to work.
  • Discrimination on the basis of national origin or citizenship by employers with four (4) or more employees.
  • Selective use of I-9 forms to pre-screen employment applicants.

Documentation requirements:

  • Applicants must provide documentation sufficient to verify identity and eligibility to work drawn from Lists A-C in the Lists of Acceptable Documents on the back of the I-9 form.
  • Applicants and employers must complete their respective sections of the I-9 form.

Specific employer requirements relating to documentation:

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  • Complete Sections 2 and 3 of applicants’ I-9 forms.
  • Examine the qualified documentation provided by a new employee within 3 days of the beginning of employment.
  • Must review documents provided by applicants to determine authenticity.

What are an employer’s record-keeping responsibilities?

  • Keep I-9 form for three (3) years following date of hire or one year following termination.
  • Keep a physical copy of the I-9 form (not in electronic format).
  • Must make form available to INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) within three (3) days of any request.

What are the potential penalties?

  • Monetary fines.
  • Back pay.
  • Attorneys’ fees.
  • Criminal penalties, including imprisonment.

Top IRCA tips

  • Be vigilant and look for potential document fraud.
  • Don’t ask for specific documents — the employee may provide any of the types of documentation noted on the INS website.
  • Follow all record-keeping requirements.
  • Do not use I-9 documentation for any purpose other than verification.
  • Keep any photocopies made of I-9 documentation with the I-9 form itself.

Stay tuned for more. Next week we’ll de-scare-ify independent contractor laws.

This was originally published on Manpower Group’s Employment Blawg.

Mark Toth has served as Manpower Group North America's Chief Legal Officer since 2000. He also serves on the company’s Global Leadership Team, Global Legal Lead Team and North American Lead Team. Mark is recognized as an expert on legal issues affecting the U.S. workplace and is frequently quoted in media from The Wall Street Journal to 60 Minutes. He is also a past Chair of the American Staffing Association and is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources. Contact him at mark.toth@manpowergroup.com.


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