In the employment law context, the topic of immigration can be a very controversial one or it can be a very clerical one simply involving numerous forms, documents, and applications.

Over the course of U.S. history there have been more than 25 different immigration laws; however, the most important law for employers and the basis of most modern debate, discussion, and documentation is the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA).

IRCA makes it unlawful for an employer to hire, recruit, or refer for a fee any individual who is not authorized to work in the United States.

To further this purpose, IRCA requires employers to verify the employment eligibility of all new hires who will perform work for pay in the United States. Failure to comply with the provisions of IRCA can result in significant civil and even criminal penalties.