If you have small children, the day may come when you decide
to hire in-home, or even live-in child care—otherwise known as a nanny.
on where you live, some of the most widely available, affordable, or qualified
applicants may lack immigration paperwork. That doesn’t stop many parents from
hiring them, but you should be aware of the risks, as described below.
- You would
be breaking the law. As an employer (and yes, you would be an employer—the
very nature of the nanny’s job means that the IRS is unlikely to call her an
independent contractor) you must, under U.S. federal law, hire only nannies who
have a legal right to both live and work in the United States. If you are
caught, you could be fined several hundred dollars.
- Your nanny
could be arrested at any time. U.S. immigration enforcement authorities are
pretty busy, so the chances of your nanny being targeted for arrest are slim.
But they’re not nonexistent, especially in states where the police cooperate
with immigration authorities by turning over suspected undocumented persons.
You absolutely wouldn’t want to face a situation where the nanny is afraid to
call the police about a burglar in your home because she might be arrested.
arrested while at your home, your children could be left there, alone. It
has happened. Immigration enforcement authorities do not consider childcare to
be among their responsibilities. And if your nanny is eventually removed from the United States, the sudden and complete separation could be traumatic for your children.
chances of attaining high political office would be nil. Remember Nannygate,
when Zoe Baird failed to win nomination as attorney general during Bill Clinton’s
presidency? Okay, so you’re not planning to run for office now, but you wouldn’t
be the first person to make a career change.
- If paying
under the table, you could get into trouble with the IRS, too. Actually,
you don’t need to pay an undocumented nanny under the table. She can apply for
what’s known as a “Taxpayer Identification Number” or TIN in lieu of a Social
Security number, which you can use for filing payroll taxes. Nevertheless, your
nanny may insist on being paid under the table, perhaps unwilling to file taxes
herself. In that case, here’s what might happen if the IRS audits you: It will
notice that you have small children, that all the parents in the house work,
and that you are not claiming the childcare tax credit. That will inevitably
raise the question of who is taking care of your children. You can see where
this will lead.
If you find a nanny whom you are seriously interested in
hiring and who is undocumented, you might want to pay for a consultation with
an immigration attorney. This is likely to cost around $100. Perhaps there is
some ground upon which the nanny can apply for a temporary work permit or a
Do not get your hopes up too high, however. The eligibility
categories are few, there’s a years-long wait for green cards in the unskilled
worker (EB-3) category that would apply to the nanny as your employee, and the
fact of her unlawful presence in the U.S. may trigger additional barriers or