New E-Verify State Laws for 2013 Will Add to Already Confusing Patchwork of Regulations for Employers

On January 1, 2013, new E-Verify laws will take effect in Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee requiring many private employers to register for and begin using the federal E-Verify electronic employment eligibility verification system. This trend of states making their own laws for E-verify, an internet-based program that compares information from Form I-9s to government records to confirm that newly hired or current employees are authorized to work in the United States, only adds to the already confusing patchwork of regulations for employers to follow to maintain legal compliance. This is Trend Number 7 of the 6th Annual ‘ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends for 2013’ available at http://www.esrcheck.com/Top-Ten-Background-Check-Trends-for-2013.php.

While participation in E-Verify is still voluntary for many businesses in the United States, employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the Federal Acquisition Regulation E-Verify clause must use the system. E-Verify usage is also required by law in several U.S. states, and the list continues to grow. The new E-Verify laws that will take effect on January 1, 2013 include the following states:

  • Georgia: Georgia House Bill 87 (HB 87) ‘Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011’ requires smaller companies or organizations with 11 to 99 employees to use E-Verify all job applicants before July 1st 2013, while companies with 10 employees or less are exempt.  Larger companies with 100 or more employees have already been subjected to HB 87 and this is the final step for employers enrolling and utilizing E-Verify as part of Georgia’s Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011.
  • North Carolina: The North Carolina General Assembly passed E-Verify legislation with Senate Bill 32 (SB 32), “An Act To Require Counties, Cities, And Employers To Use The Federal E-Verify Program To Verify The Work Authorization Of Newly Hired Employees,” requiring private businesses employing more than 100 people and fewer than 500 people to register for and begin using the E-Verify system on January 1, 2013. Employers with 25 or more employees will be required to use E-Verify to check work authorization for all new hires beginning on July 1, 2013.
  • Pennsylvania: In Pennsylvania, Act No. 127 (formerly Senate Bill 637), The Public Works Employment Verification Act, requires all public works contractors and subcontractors with the state to enroll in and use E-Verify for newly hired employees beginning January 1, 2013 – but only if the project is worth $25,000 or more.
  • Tennessee: The Tennessee Lawful Employment Act (TLEA) that took effect January 1, 2012 and requires employers to verifying the employment eligibility of all newly hired employees begins its final phase as companies employing more than 5 persons must register and begin using E-Verify by January 1, 2013. This means that all private employers with 6 to 199 employees must enroll and use E-Verify to validate its new hires by this date. The TLEA requires all employers in Tennessee to show they are hiring and maintaining a legal workforce either by enrolling in and using the E-Verify program or requesting all newly hired employees and “non-employees” to provide certain identity and employment authorization documents. The amendment is Public Chapter No. 436.

In addition to the new E-Verify laws effective January 1, 2013, other states – including some already mentioned – implemented rules regarding E-Verify usage that went into effect in 2012:

  • Alabama: According to ‘The Alabama Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act’ (H.B. 56), every Alabama business – regardless of size – had to enroll in E-Verify by the April 1, 2012 deadline to be in compliance with the law or else they could lose their licenses for failing to abide by the law.
  • Georgia: Under HB 87, the second phase of the law requires private businesses in the state with 100 or more employees but fewer than 500 employees to use the E-Verify system by July 1, 2012.
  • North Carolina: Under SB 32, employers with 500 or more employees were required to use E-Verify beginning October 1, 2012.
  • Virginia: Virginia House Bill 737 (HB 737) required agencies of the Commonwealth of Virginia to enroll in the E-Verify program by December 1, 2012, and to use the Program for each newly hired employee who is to perform work within the Commonwealth. HB 737 also requires state contractors entering into a contract of more than $50,000 with any Virginia agency, and have averaged 50 or more employees for the previous 12 months, to register and participate in E-Verify by December 1, 2013.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – the government agency that oversees lawful immigration to the United States as part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  –  1.2 million worksites currently use E-Verify, a free Internet-based program administered by the USCIC in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). E-Verify compares information from the ‘Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification’ that employers must complete for all newly-hired employees to verify their identity and authorization to work in the U.S. with DHS and SSA records. For more information about E-Verify, visit: http://www.dhs.gov/e-verify.

Self Check – a service of E-Verify that expanded to all 50 states in 2012 – is a free, Internet-based application that is available nationwide and can be used by anyone in the United States over the age of 16 to confirm employment eligibility. After users enter a small amount of information, the Self Check service will check that information against various government databases to determine their work eligibility in the United States. Self Check is now available in both English and Spanish all 50 U.S. states, as well as Washington, D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. For more information about Self Check, please visit: http://www.uscis.gov/selfcheck.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 made it unlawful for an employer “to hire, or to recruit or refer for a fee, for employment in the United States an alien knowing the alien is an unauthorized alien.” Federal law requires every employer hiring an individual for employment in the U.S. to verify his or her identity and employment authorization through completion of a Form I-9. In an attempt to improve the employment eligibility verification process, the U.S. Congress created a pilot program in 1996 that went national in 2003 and was expanded and renamed E-Verify in 2007.

In order to participate in the E-Verify program, an employer must execute a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Background screening firms may also act as an employer’s authorized Designated E-Verify Employer Agent such as Employment Screening Resources (ESR) to help employers comply with E-Verify/Form I-9 regulations, eliminate errors, improve accuracy, and maintain a legal workforce. For more information, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/formi9.php.

The ESR E-Verify ‘Designated E-Verify Employer Agent’ page includes access to an ‘E-Verify Legislation Map’ that presents a detailed and up-to-date summary of all active and proposed E-Verify laws at the city, county, state, and federal level. This interactive map helps employers navigate the ever-changing landscape of employment verification requirements. To access the map, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/formi9.php.

For information about background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority’ and nationwide background screening firm accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – at http://www.esrcheck.com/ or call Toll Free 888.999.4474. The 6th Annual ‘ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends for 2013’ is at http://www.esrcheck.com/Top-Ten-Background-Check-Trends-for-2013.php.

More information about these trends is available in the updated 2nd Edition of “The Safe Hiring Manual” by ESR Founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen. For more information, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/SafeHiringManual.php.

Sources:

http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/display/32190 http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2009/Bills/Senate/HTML/S32v1.html http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2009%20%20&BillID=s32 http://www.legis.state.pa.us/CFDOCS/Legis/PN/Public/btCheck.cfm?txtType=HTM&sessYr=2011&sessInd=0&billBody=S&billTyp=B&billNbr=0637&pn=2347 http://www.tn.gov/sos/acts/107/pub/pc0436.pdf http://www.openbama.org/index.php/bill/fulltext/3154 http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?101+sum+HB737

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):

Founded by safe hiring expert Attorney Les Rosen in 1997, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM’– provides accurate and actionable information that empowers employers to make informed hiring decisions for the benefit of their organizations, employees, and the public. CEO Rosen literally wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual” and ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percent of screening firms. Employers choosing ESR know they have selected an agency meeting the highest industry standards. To learn more about ESR, visit http://www.esrcheck.com or call toll free 888.999.4474.

About ESR News:

The Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at tahearn@esrcheck.com. To subscribe to the ESR News Blog Feed, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/feed/. To subscribe to the complimentary ESRcheck Report monthly newsletter, please visit http://www.esrcheck.com/Newsletter/.