Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)

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The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) includes provisions addressing employment eligibility, employment verification, and nondiscrimination. These provisions apply to all employers.

Basic Provisions/Requirements

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.

Employee Rights

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.


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 apparent.

Relation to State, Local, and Other Federal Laws

Not applicable.

Work Authorization for Non-U.S. Citizens

Authorized Workers

Temporary Agricultural Workers (H-2A Visas)

Temporary Nonagricultural Workers (H-2B Visas)

Workers in Professional and Specialty Occupations

Immigration for Workers Obtaining Permanent Employment in the United States

Crewmembers (D-1 Visas)

Click here to download full text of the regulations.

Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)

Updated 10/7/08

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