U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Issues Guidance on SB 60 Drivers Licenses

4 Jun

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on May 19, 2015 posted on its website guidance for employers of employees who present a driver’s license issued by a state to persons who cannot submit satisfactory proof of legal presence in the United States. In sum, the guidance states that such a license:
• Must be accepted in the Form I-9 employment eligibility verification process as a List B document establishing identity if it otherwise meets the requirements of a List B document (i.e., it contains a photo of or information identifying the individual presenting it) and the employer determines it reasonably appears to be genuine and to relate to that individual.
• Does not, in and of itself, support a conclusion that the employer had actual or constructive knowledge (i.e., knew or should have known) that the employee presenting it is not employment authorized (if that is in fact the case).
In addition, the guidance notes that:
• An employer accepting such a license as a List B identity document in the Form I-9 process must (as for all types of List B documents) also examine a List C document establishing the individual’s employment authorization.
• Under a regulation of the Department of Homeland Security, which houses USCIS, whether an employer is considered to have actual or constructive knowledge that an employee lacks employment authorization is determined on a case-by-case basis and depends upon all of the facts and variables specific to the individual case.
The last point above is made in the context of the federal ban against employing or continuing to employ an employee with knowledge that the employee is not eligible to be employed in the U.S. The DHS regulation noted above states that a “knowing hire” violation can be based on either actual knowledge or constructive knowledge of unlawful status. Constructive knowledge is knowledge that may be fairly inferred through notice of certain facts and circumstances that would lead a person, through the exercise of reasonable care, to know about a certain condition.
The omission from the guidance of any statement that an employer must do anything other than accept such a license as a List B identity document in the Form I-9 process indicates the federal government does not expect an employer to inquire into why an employee claiming employment eligibility has such a license—at least where the employer has no other reason to doubt the employee’s claim.

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