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Will a background check from my employer reveal I am illegal?

Visalia, CA |

I been working for a restaurant about three years now when they hired me they ran my social security # and accepted an old school Id before hiring me. My manager told me I would need to update my Id or drivers-license but I never did because I am illegal. I was brought to the US as a baby,my mom was able to get me a social security # but that was all. Now my manager is requesting a background check on me and I'm scared that the background check will reveal I am illegal and get fired.

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Attorney answers 3


It very well may, but it is possible it will not. It really depends on the nature of the background check, how deep the check will go, and how closely the checkers will look at what may be some red flags of non-citizenship.

Good luck to you.

This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.


The 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) requires that employers verify that all employees have proper work authorization. Employers must complete Form I-9 within three days of the start of work for each employee. I-9 info is then checked by E-Verify, a computer program used by the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") and the Social Security Administration. E-verify confirms the employee's authorization to work. Unfavorable determinations and claims of error can be appealed.

DHS enforces laws against unauthorized employment, along with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency ("ICE"). Employers are audited for compliance with all legal requirements.

There are civil and criminal penalties for employer violations of these laws. The penalties are potentially very severe, and can put the typical employer out of business. For example: violations of records and documentation errors subject the employer to penalties of $110 to $1,100 per each insufficient I-9; employment of unauthorized employees can cause penalties of $3,200 - $16,000 per unauthorized employee. Criminal penalties may include up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $3,000 per unauthorized employee; and
imprisonment of 5 years for 10+ unauthorized employees in a twelve-month period (with actual knowledge).

Enforcement of these laws steps up each and every year, and you must realistically expect that at some point your employer will necessarily be required to verify your employment status and will be required to undertake such verification measures as will reveal the problem with your status. You need to get in touch with an immigration attorney to do what can be done to resolve your work eligibility. A consultation with an employment attorney would also be a sound step for you to take. Your employer may be antagonized by the jeopardy your deception has created and there may well be push-back.

These are knotty facts and there are high-stakes for errors and omissions. You need legal skilled and experienced legal counsel for all of the issues raised by your situation.

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.


I own a company that performs background checks. Typically, the checks do not reveal whether or not a person is authorized to work in the USA. The check will verify criminal history.