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New Immigration Law: E-Verify is Now Mandatory in Florida

If you're a business owner in Florida, you have likely heard about the new immigration law passed by Governor DeSantis in May 2023. However, you might not know what it means for your business.

Are you aware of the details found in Senate Bill 1718? If not, it’s essential you understand the implications that these new immigration laws have on your business to maximize compliance and avoid any unexpected fines and penalties.

Going over the basics of the new immigration law, how E-Verify works, ways to ensure compliance, and potential penalties for non-compliance is vital to implementing proper controls within your business.

What is the New Immigration Law? 

On May 10, 2023, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Senate Bill 1718, taking effect on July 1, 2023. The purpose of this bill is to combat the effects of illegal immigration that resulted from expiring border provisions. Employers with over 25 employees are now subject to the mandatory use of E-Verify.

If undocumented workers are uncovered, businesses will face stiff penalties, including license suspension. As a part of the package, $12 million in resources are allocated to relocating undocumented immigrants to sanctioned jurisdictions.

In addition, local governments are now prohibited from issuing Identification Cards (IDs) to undocumented immigrants, even if they are verified in other states. Hospitals must also collect and submit data on healthcare costs for undocumented immigrants.

What is E-Verify and How Does it Work? 

E-Verify is an online verification tool run by the Department of Homeland Security. This program allows employers to electronically verify the legal status of new hires with information from the Social Security Administration and DHS records.

To use E-Verify, you will first need to enroll. You can either work with the E-Verify system directly or correspond with an agent. Next, you will enter the employee’s I-9 details furnished at the time of hiring. Once you enter that information, you will receive the case results. These results should appear within a few seconds. If your I-9 does not populate results, confirm the legitimacy or use an alternative method, such as a passport or permanent resident card.

The E-Verify program launched back in 1996, however, the new immigration law requires widespread use for employers over 25 employees. In addition, your business must keep E-Verify records for at least three years following the employee’s hire date. If the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity were to request documentation, your business would be obliged to provide the verification you hired the employee based on. 

How Can Your Business Navigate Changing Compliance Laws?

Compliance is a top concern for business owners and HR departments following the new immigration laws. 

When hiring employees, have well-defined hiring processes that eliminate discriminatory practices, but uphold required immigration compliance laws. This includes refraining from asking inappropriate interview questions, such as their legality, and avoiding illegal criminal background checks.

After hiring the candidate, inquire about resident status through E-Verify. The same goes for background checks. You cannot use this information to base hiring decisions on, but instead, take the appropriate action if you uncover information after they receive the offer.

What Happens If a Business Doesn’t Comply with State and Federal Regulations? 

There are some clear disadvantages of non-compliance with state and federal regulations. First, your business can be subject to stiff fines and penalties. In the worst-case scenario, this can include revoking your license, which can halt business operations indefinitely.

Additionally, frequent instances of non-compliance can make you a prime target for future audits, inquiries, and checks down the road. To avoid this, you can request an audit of your current business practices, even if your business is not subject to the new E-Verify requirements.

How to Optimize Compliance for Your Business 

How do the new immigration laws impact your business? Do you need to redefine hiring procedures to maintain compliance? Whether you are looking for personalized strategies on how your business can ensure compliance with the new immigration laws or go over potential risks, it’s crucial that you work with an expert.

At Merritt Business Solutions, we can help you optimize your hiring procedures to remain compliant with Florida’s new employment laws. In addition, Merritt Business Solutions can get your business set up with E-Verify and help you stay ahead of new regulations and changes in compliance to avoid lawsuits, fines, and other penalties. Contact us to get started.

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