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I am an European citizen applying for some academic jobs in US.

I have some doubts on one question I have to answer during the application process

1) Are you presently legally authorized to work in the United States?

My answer to this question is NO

2) Will you be able to provide proof of your identity and employment eligibility if you are hired?

What should I reply here? Is it referred to my future or current eligibility?

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    Is this multiple choice (e.g., Yes or No) or are you able to provide more information? – Ian_Fin Nov 3 '16 at 10:43
  • It is Yes or No. – user3285148 Nov 3 '16 at 10:46
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    It might be worth contacting the HR department of the institution you're applying to in order to clarify how to proceed. – Ian_Fin Nov 3 '16 at 10:59
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Unless you're already eligible to work in the US (e.g. as a permanent resident), you'll have to answer the second question with a "no."

The three aspects of US employment/immigration law that you need to know about are that

  1. Newly hired employees are required to prove that they're eligible to work in the US by filling out an I-9 form and providing the required documentation. Most universities than use an online service called e-verify to verify the information on the I-9 form. You'll typically be required to provide this documentation immediately upon being hired (not six months later when your first semester starts.) You're being asked if you can fill out the I-9 form.

  2. Practically all of the options for a visa that would enable you to work in the US require sponsorship by the employer. This sponsorship requires the employer to declare that there were no qualified applicants that weren't already eligible to work in the US and obtain an authorization from the US Department of Labor. The process takes weeks to months, and can cost thousands of dollars. If you say that you're good to go, and the employer later finds out that they'd have to sponsor you for a visa, they may simply withdraw your job offer rather than sponsor you for a visa.

  3. It's not legal to discriminate between various classes of people who do already have the right to work in the US (e.g. between permanent residents vs. citizens.) The particular wording of that question is designed to protect against that kind of discirimination.

Going beyond the "yes/no" answer to this question, you could provide additional information that could be helpful. For example, if you hold Canadian citizenship than its easy for you to be employed on a NAFTA visa, and you wouldn't need to be sponsored for an H-1B visa. On the other hand, if you're currently on an expiring J-1 visa with a "return home" requirement, it could be difficult for them to sponsor you for an H-1B visa.

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  • "It's not legal to discriminate between various classes of people who do already have the right to work in the US" Not for all classes. Only US citizens, nationals, permanent residents, temporary residents, asylees, and refugees are protected from citizenship status discrimination. Nonimmigrants who have EADs or otherwise have ability to work are not protected. – user102008 Nov 3 '16 at 21:33
  • OK. As a practical matter most of the applicants you will encounter who have the right to work will be citizens or permanent residents. – Brian Borchers Nov 3 '16 at 22:28
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These are standard questions that Human Resources needs to know the answers to in order to deal with international hires. The answer to the first question is presumably no. HR needs to know this, because if you are hired, they will need to start the paperwork to get you a work visa. The second question covers whether you have the documentation (principally a passport) that you and they will need to complete the visa application process.

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  • And that's assuming they're interested in getting him a work visa in the first place. – Loren Pechtel Nov 4 '16 at 3:02
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    If I were not already authorized to work in the US, I would answer "No" to the second question. It is closely tied to the I-9 form. – Patricia Shanahan Nov 5 '16 at 1:24

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