Workers and Employers
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mid-councils and congregations interested in calling a non-resident for religious work should contact the office to ensure proper immigration procedures are followed. Contact Teresa at (502) 569-5372 or Teresa.Waggener@pcusa.org for more information on the immigration process.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
DACA recipients and their employers can receive guidance from USCIS to ensure compliance in the application and hiring process.
Members of congress often introduce and debate immigration legislation that would change the procedures to and conditions of gaining entry the U.S. Stay up-to-date on current proposals by visiting the Office of Immigration Issues website.
All employers must ask every employee, regardless of the employee’s nationality or immigration status, for proof of his/her authorization to work in the U.S., thereby complying with federal I-9 requirements. There are no exceptions for religious employers, no matter how small the congregation. Mid-councils and churches must complete, and keep on file, the I-9 form and supporting documentation for every member of staff. Employers who do not comply with I-9 requirements are subject to sanctions.
While some employers may believe that they are acting as immigration officers when completing I-9s there are good reasons for, and benefits to, this practice.
Protecting Employee’s Immigration Status
For a foreign born person who may have, or develop, plans to make the U.S. his/her permanent home, unauthorized work can hinder those plans, making their immigration process longer and more expensive. By asking for documentation now, an employer may prevent future immigration problems for prospective employees.
Protecting Employees from Exploitation
Some employers do not comply with I-9 requirements, knowing employees may not be documented and, therefore, less likely to complain about unsafe working conditions or other workplace violations. Employers looking for a vulnerable workforce may be more likely to violate other labor laws such as paying less than minimum wage and condoning sexual harassment. This kind of practice is harmful to all workers.
Avoid Employer Sanctions
Employers protect themselves from sanctions and charges when they comply with the I-9 requirements. While these sanctions are mostly civil in nature, the government may also choose to file criminal charges in some cases.
E-Verify is an Internet-based employment eligibility verification system that compares information from an employee's Form I-9 to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records. This system is controversial because studies have shown that it flags as potentially ineligible for work many persons who are actually authorized to work in the U.S. This concern prompted the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to adopt a policy urging Presbyterians to advocate against mandatory participation in E-verify as long as the system has a high incidence of inaccuracy.
Despite the controversy, E-verify is mandatory in some states for some employers. To avoid sanctions, please check with your local government to find out if your state requires participation in E-verify.
What everyone should know about document discrimination
The law sets forth documents acceptable as evidence of authorization to work. Page five of the I-9 form lists acceptable documents and/or combinations of documents. An employee may present any one or combination of those listed. An employer requiring specific documents and refusing other satisfactory documents has committed document discrimination and is at risk of sanctions from the Department of Justice or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
If you are an employee who has been the victim of document discrimination, you have only 180 days to file a complaint. Please contact the Department of Justice or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for more information as soon as possible.
In addition to the requirement that employers verify each employee’s eligibility to work in the U.S., employers must withhold certain taxes from employee’s paychecks and employees must file the appropriate tax forms at the end of the year. Please visit the IRS webpage and consult with a tax attorney to make sure you comply with the law.