RE: Illegal interview question

Subject: RE: Illegal interview question
From: "Giordano, Connie" <Connie -dot- Giordano -at- FMR -dot- COM>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 11:37:25 -0500

Your first respondent is incorrect. The federal law mandates that employers
provide proof of eligibility, not citizenship, to work in the U.S. It has
been in existence since 1986 and was designed to stop employers from hiring
illegal aliens, paying them below-standard wages, and then avoid paying the
FICA taxes (at least it was the stated purpose). If you are not a U.S.
citizen, then you must provide visa information proving your eligibility.
Everyone must provide this information (social security card, birth
certificate, passport, visa paperwork) within three days of hire. I've had
my driver's license and SSN card Xeroxed by every employer since 1986. Your
employer can be shut down for not having this information, the I-9 form, on
file for every employee.

If employers are asking this in advance of your hire date, most likely it is
to weed out the ineligible candidates prior to going through the expense of
interviewing, background checking etc. And as one of the other respondents
pointed out, if they are asking if you are a citizen, they are probably
doing it incorrectly out of ignorance, not malice. They should be asking
you if you can provide proof of eligibility to work, not citizenship. If
they aren't asking, run fast in the opposite direction, because if they are
that unaware of the laws regarding employment, they aren't likely to be a
good employer.


Connie Giordano

-----Original Message-----
From: Jane S. [mailto:judydh -at- total -dot- net]
Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2000 10:50 AM
Subject: Re: Illegal interview question

I've had these two responses already. The authors seem rather edgey about
the issue.

I don't believe it's illegal, as *everyone* who is hired in the US,
including US citizens, must produce proof they are an American citizen on
their first day of work. This has been the case for about 10 years.

> Hey, I AM american and I get asked to show proof of ability to work. I
> always turn around and ask the interviewer if white candidates are asked
> work eligibility such as I am since I am Indian by birth, yet American by
> citizenship. If this is an illegal practice, what is the requirement of
> making people fill out a form that states your ability to work in the US
> then a copy of your passport or driver's license?
> Just wondering?

I'm sure it's meant to prevent discrimination. I would be very shocked (and
you should be too) if the States made it illegal for any citizen from any
particular country to obtain work in the US. This law is probably meant to
take that judgment call out of any individual's hands, "e.g., I won't hire
anyone but blue-blooded Americans!", something I assume that Sanjay, above,
has suspected at least once.

Of course, after you've landed the job, the employer has to provide proof
for the INS that everyone they employ is eligible to work in the United
States. I am absolutely sure that employers are required to check that you
are legally eligible to work in the States *prior* to hiring, at which point
you would normally discuss visas. IMHO, this question should come at the end
of the interview. That a company ask you for your passport or driver's
license is their own policy, and I think it would be equally imprudent to do
so until either all paperwork has gone through, or the first day you're on
the job, whichever comes first. When I worked in the States, the paperwork
was finished after I already started.

If the employer cannot afford to go through the cost or timely process of
sponsorship, they may say so in their job listings or in the negotiation
phase. Make it clear is it not discrimination based on citizenship,
unamericanness, whatever, but a cost issue. The whole point of the process
is to enforce that a company tries to get the best person for the job,
personality, credentials, experience and all. Sometimes that comes in a
different package than usual.


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