It is important to understand the federal government is responsible for immigration policies in the United States. They have final say on matters like visas, green cards and citizenship. States can add some layers to regulations on immigration laws that will impact the ability of immigrants to work or receive public benefits.
New York has some unique immigration laws that speak to the complex history of a state (and city like New York City in particular) that is steeped in the contributions of immigrants, yet has to deal with the reality of terrorism. There are some simple differences to understand about immigration laws in New York that we cover below. If you are looking for specific legal advice, you should find an experienced immigration lawyer in New York to pursue your path to citizenship or assist in resolving any immigration legal issues.
New York Does Not Use E-Verify
The state of New York does not utilize the E-Verify system. New York requires employers to submit a Form I-9 through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This certainly does not mean that it will be easier to work as an immigrant in New York. It may actually take slightly longer to complete the process.
New York Driver’s License
Anyone that wants to receive a driver’s license in New York will need to provide physical proof of their name, birth date and identity. If you do not have a valid Social Security card, you will need to bring all your immigration documentation or foreign passport with USCIS documentation.
Secure Communities in New York
New York uses the Secure Communities program run by the Department of Homeland Security. The program is essentially a network of fingerprint databases at local, state, and federal levels that allows any law enforcement agency in New York to find out whether a suspect is a citizen of the United States. The program was created in 2008 under the Bush Administration, expanded under the Obama administration and reauthorized by the Trump administration in January. The Secure Communitiesprogram has come under increased scrutiny recently for targeting immigrants without a criminal record. You will certainly want to speak with an experienced immigration lawyer in New York if you have any legal issues related to Secure Communities.
Public Benefits and Immigration Laws in New York
New York mostly follows the letter of the federal law when it comes to barring immigrants from receiving any public benefits. There are exceptions for emergency services that may be required to save someone’s life. The state of New York does not require most educational institutes to do any immigration or background checks.