Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA)

A federal law amending the Immigration and Nationality Act that requires employers to verify the identity and employment eligibility of their employees (Pub. L. No. 99-603, 100 Stat. 3359 (1986)as codified as amended in scattered sections of  8 U.S.C.).

Under IRCA, all employers must complete Employment Eligibility Verification Forms, commonly known as Form I-9 (www.practicallaw.com/6-502-1061), for all current employees and maintain those forms on file for the longer of either:

  • Three years from the date of hire.

  • One year after the employment ended.

IRCA prohibits employers from:

  • Knowingly hiring or recruiting or referring (for a fee) aliens who are not authorized to work in the US.

  • Requiring specific documents to complete the I-9 form.

  • Retaliating against employees that file a charge or participate in an investigation.

  • Discriminating in hiring or termination of employees based on citizenship, if the employer employs more than three employees.

  • Discriminating in hiring or termination of employees based on national origin, if the employer employs between four and 14 employees. IRCA does not overlap with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (www.practicallaw.com/0-501-7062), which applies to employers with at least 15 employees.

IRCA imposes civil and criminal sanctions for employment-related violations of US immigration laws and is enforced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

For more information, see Practice Note, Demonstrating the Right to Work in the United States (www.practicallaw.com/7-500-6654).

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