Office Of Special Counsel For Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices

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Frequently Asked Questions About Permissible Job Postings

1. Can I limit my job posting to U.S. citizens or permanent residents only?

Generally, no. In most cases, it is unlawful discrimination to require job applicants to have a particular citizenship status or immigration status. An employer may require U.S. citizenship or permanent residence for a particular job only when required by federal, state, or local law, or by government contract. Employment opportunities should generally be available to all individuals who are authorized to work in the United States, including U.S. citizens, permanent residents, asylees, refugees, and temporary residents.

2. How can I be sure that applicants for this position are authorized to work in the U.S.?

You can state the following in your job posting: “Applicants must be currently authorized to work in the United States for any employer.” Once you hire a person, you and your new employee must complete an Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) within three days of the date he or she begins working for you.

3. Can’t I just require that applicants have a “green card”?

No. A “green card only” policy will almost always violate federal anti-discrimination law. First, “green cards” are only issued to individuals with a specific immigration status, namely permanent residents. Many other immigrants are authorized to work in the U.S. but don’t have “green cards.” Thus, by requiring a “green card,” you are effectively limiting your job posting to permanent residents only, and excluding other categories of individuals who are authorized to work, including U.S. citizens, asylees, refugees, and temporary residents. As discussed above in response to Question 1, requiring applicants to have a particular citizenship or immigration status is generally unlawful. Second, requiring a “green card” or any other INS/BCIS-issued document during completion of the I-9 form may also violate federal law. All new employees should be shown the complete list of documents acceptable to complete the I-9 form and given the choice of which documents to show to complete the form.

4. How can I convey that I am not interested in sponsoring a candidate for this position?

You have two options. First, you may simply state: “No sponsorship is available for this position.” In the alternative, as discussed above in response to Question 2, you may state the following: “Applicants must be currently authorized to work in the United States for any employer.” Candidates requiring sponsorship, whether now or in the future, are not authorized to work in the United States for any employer.

5. May I express a preference for H-1B candidates?

No. While you are certainly free to sponsor candidates for positions with your company, including H-1B visa holders, you may not express a preference for H-1B candidates or other individuals requiring sponsorship or employment visas. Employment opportunities should be made available equally to all individuals who are authorized to work in the United States, including U.S. citizens, permanent residents, asylees, refugees, and temporary residents. To do otherwise, could violate federal anti-discrimination law.

For additional information, please contact the Office of Special Counsel for
Immigration Related Unfair Employment Practices at 1-800-255-7688.

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Updated August 6, 2015

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