DOJ Lawsuit Addresses INA Violations and Regulation Misunderstandings

DOJ Lawsuit Addresses INA Violations and Regulation Misunderstandings
September 18, 2023

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) recently sued a major spaceship manufacturing company. According to the case, the company violated the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Allegations revealed discriminatory hiring practices due to incorrectly interpreting some export control laws.

The complaint alleged that the company’s hiring practices discriminated against refugees and asylees. According to the DOJ, the spaceship manufacturer only hired U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents from September 2018 to September 2020. Furthermore, the jobs involved were not just for positions requiring advanced degrees or involved export-controlled items. The DOJ pointed out that the spaceship manufacturer also hires people for other functions.

The alleged discrimination occurred during screening, recruitment, and selection. According to the complaint, refugees and asylees were discouraged from applying to the company. The company allegedly said it could only hire U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. 

As such, it refused to consider refugees and asylees who applied, basing the rejection on their citizenship status. The complaint also revealed that hiring managers and recruiters routinely voiced this requirement to applicants. They claimed that the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) restricted them from hiring anyone without a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen status.

Export laws can restrict who companies may hire in certain situations. Examples of such conditions include the release of technical data, technology, or source code. These cases often require companies to release only to U.S. persons. However, “U.S. persons” can include refugees and asylees. However, the phrase “U.S. persons” has become a significant source of confusion. Many companies fail to realize that refugees and asylees can count as “U.S. persons.” 

After settling this case, the DOJ issued guidance for employers to clarify compliance. This guidance detailed crucial factors about the U.S. export laws. The DOJ hopes this will reduce the chances of employers unintentionally violating the INA. 

Export employers must ensure their human resource personnel understand the U.S. export laws and other relevant regulations. As such, the DOJ encourages employers to review the guidance with personnel to decrease the likelihood of violations. In addition to complying with the INA, employers should ensure they follow the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) regulations.

The I-9 regulations can prove challenging due to the many documents asylees and refugees may present as proof of work authorization. The best way to ensure compliance while completing Form I-9s is to use an electronic I-9 management system. This system will guide you through the entire process, safely store the forms and documentation, and send reminders when action is needed to remain compliant.

Learn more about automating your employment eligibility verification and ensuring compliance with I-9Compliance.