How to Check Your Nanny’s Immigration Status


Immigration laws are complex, and many parents hire nannies who are not legally authorized to work in the United States. The consequences of hiring an undocumented immigrant can be severe. First, parents may be fined. Second, U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement may arrest and deport a nanny to his or her home country. To avoid these negative consequences, follow the simple steps in this article.

First, check the immigration status of your nanny on or before the first day of his or her work. To do so, ask him or her to complete U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

Form I-9 is straightforward. In the first section, the nanny must provide his or her name, address, date of birth, and Social Security number. The nanny must also indicate his or her immigration status and sign and date the document. In the second section, the parents indicate the nanny’s immigration documents and certify that he or she is authorized to work in the United States. The final page of Form I-9 lists documents that are acceptable proof of employment authorization.

Nannies may be legally authorized to work in a variety of ways. For example, all U.S. citizens are authorized to work, no matter how they obtained their citizenship. Note that a driver’s license can establish the identity of a nanny but not his or her citizenship. To establish citizenship, you need the nanny to provide a birth certificate in addition to a driver’s license, or another acceptable document listed on Form I-9.

Nannies who are permanent residents are also authorized to work in the United States. If your nanny is a permanent resident, he or she should show you a card with the words “Permanent Resident” or “Registered Alien” near the top.

A foreign-born nanny might also be allowed to work in the U.S. by obtaining a work permit card. A work permit card is officially called an Employment Authorization Document, or EAD for short. It allows a nanny to work in the U.S. for a temporary period.

In hiring a nanny, remember that it is illegal to discriminate against a job applicant because of that person’s national origin or citizenship status. For example, you cannot discriminate against a potential nanny merely because he or she is a Permanent Resident and not yet a full U.S. citizen. You should not hire someone, however, who refuses to give you documents required by Form I-9. Lastly, remember to keep the nanny’s completed Form I-9 in your files, in case you are ever audited by the government.

If you are unsure whether you may hire a particular job applicant, contact an immigration attorney in your state. Tell the attorney that you are a parent hiring a nanny, and that you need help with employment verification. Alternatively, contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and ask for help.

Checking your nanny’s immigration status is worthwhile in the long run. Your nanny will respect you for following the law, and you will sleep comfortably at night knowing you will not be fined or lose your nanny due to immigration issues.

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