Employment Law Guide
Chapter: Authorized Workers
Updated: September 2005
Immigration and Nationality Act
USC 1101 as amended) Section
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) includes provisions addressing
employment eligibility, employment verification, and nondiscrimination. These
provisions apply to all employers.
Under the INA, employers may hire only persons who may legally work in the
United States (i.e., citizens and nationals of the U.S.) and aliens authorized to
work in the U.S. The employer must verify the identity and employment eligibility
of anyone to be hired, which includes completing the Employment Eligibility
Verification Form (I-9). Employers must keep each I-9 on file for at least three
years, or one year after employment ends, whichever is longer.
The INA protects U.S. citizens and aliens authorized to accept
employment in the U.S. from discrimination in hiring or discharge on the basis
of national origin and citizenship status.
More detailed information, including copies of explanatory brochures and
regulatory and interpretative materials, may be obtained from local offices of
the Employment Standards Administration's (ESA) Wage and Hour Division
(1-866-4USWAGE) and the
Office of Federal Contract Compliance
Employers who fail to complete and/or retain the I-9 forms are subject
to penalties. The Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) enforces the INA requirements on
verification of employment eligibility. The Department of Justice’s
(DOJ) Office of
Special Counsel for Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices
enforces the anti discrimination provisions. As part of their ongoing
enforcement efforts, the ESA's Wage and Hour Division and
Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs conduct inspections of the I-9
forms. They report their findings to DHS and to the DOJ where disparate treatment or unauthorized employment is
The Employment Law Guide is offered as a public resource. It
does not create new legal obligations and it is not a substitute for the U.S.
Code, Federal Register, and Code of Federal Regulations as the official sources
of applicable law. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information
provided is complete and accurate as of the time of publication, and this will
continue. Later versions of this Guide will be offered at
www.dol.gov/compliance or by calling our Toll-Free
Help Line at 1-866-4-USA-DOL (1-866-487-2365).