Proof of Eligibility to Work in the USA

Have your passport or other forms of identification available at the start of a new job.
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Employers can be penalized for recruiting, hiring or continuing to employ illegal immigrants under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Anytime an employer hires an employee, the new hire must complete an I-9 form and provide proof of eligibility to work in the United States. Because citizens as well as immigrants are eligible to work in the country, several forms of proof are acceptable.

Born in the USA

    When you are born in the United States, a Social Security card and a birth certificate is issued by a state, county or municipal authority. These two documents alone serve to prove your eligibility to work in the country. To establish your identity, which is also required, you may submit a driver's license or ID card issued by your state; school ID card with your photo; voter's registration card; or military dependent's card. You may also apply for a U.S. passport and provide that alone to prove that you are eligible to work. A U.S. passport is acceptable whether it has a valid or expired date.


    Naturalized U.S. citizens are eligible to work in the USA. You can apply to become a citizen of the United States as an immigrant, at which point you will be provided a Certificate of Naturalization. The Certificate of Naturalization is also known as INS Form N-550 or N-570, which serves as proof of eligibility to work in the United States.

Permanent Resident

    As a legal immigrant to the United States, you may be known as a permanent resident and possess the right to work permanently in the country. A Permanent Resident Card, also known as Form I-551 or a "Green Card," can be used as proof of eligibility to work in the country. The Permanent Resident Card remains valid for 10 years, at which point you would have to renew it again before the expiration date.

Alien and Worker Visa

    When you are not a citizen or permanent resident but eligible to work in the United States, you are known as an alien authorized to work. In this instance, you may have a worker visa. Provide your valid foreign passport with the I-551 stamp or INS Form I-94 indicating an unexpired employment authorization as proof of eligibility to work in the country. You may apply for a temporary worker visa when your prospective employer or agent has filed a petition that is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, according to the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

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