When You Can Ask
The Immigration Reform and Control Act requires all employees to provide proof to employers that they can legally work in the U.S. Employers are required to verify the eligibility status of all employees, even those they know are U.S. citizens. It is against the law to knowingly hire someone who is not authorized to work in the United States.
Even so, the Immigration Reform and Control Act generally forbids you from asking a person to prove his or her citizenship during a job interview or at any time before you offer employment.
Verifying a person’s eligibility is something you do only after you’ve hired the candidate. You can, however, inform the candidate that you plan on verifying the employment status of any potential new hire. In fact, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recommends adding the following statement to your employment applications to ensure compliance:
“In compliance with federal law, all persons hired will be required to verify identity and eligibility to work in the United States and to complete the required employment eligibility verification document form upon hire.”