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I-9 E-Verify Immigration Compliance

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  1. What is Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 3711)?

    By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC

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    Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) has introduced the Legal Workforce Act (H.R. 3711), which proposes numerous changes to current law, including requiring every employer in the U.S. to use E-Verify or an electronic employment eligibility verification system.

    Here is a summary of the billís key provisions:

    • Mandatory employer participation in the E-Verify phased in over a two-year period based on the size of the employer;
    • Conditional job offers, based on passing E-Verify, which is contrary to current law, which prohibits use of E-Verify until a job offer is accepted;
    • Within 6 months of the billís enactment, these current workforce employees would have to have their employment eligibility reverified: employees who require a federal security clearance; workers assigned to a federal contract; and federal, state, and local government employee;
    • Beginning 30 days after the bill is enacted, an employer would be allowed to voluntarily use E-Verify to reverify the employment eligibility of any current employee, if the employer reverified all individuals at the same geographic location or employed within the same job category;
    • Employers would also have to use E-Verify, according to the phase-in timeline for employers based on their size, for workers with expiring work authorization;
    • Many documents, that are currently acceptable, would no longer be acceptable for proving employment eligibility;
    • Employers would be relieved of liability for any employment action taken with respect to a worker if the employer had verified the workerís identity and employment eligibility and relied on information provided by E-Verify in good faith;
    • Would substantially increase penalties for employers who knowingly hired or employed unauthorized workers and who failed to use E-Verify or knowingly submitted false information to E-Verify, but fines for knowingly hiring or employing an unauthorized worker could be waived if the employer established that it acted in good faith;
    • Would preempt states and localities from passing employer sanctions and employment eligibility verification laws; but, it would allow states to use business licensing and similar laws to penalize employers for not using E-Verify. It would also allow a state, at its own cost, to enforce the provisions of the Legal Workforce Act if it followed the federal regulations, rules, and guidance implementing the act.


    I will keep you apprised of any actions taken toward passage of the Legal Workforce Act though it is highly unlikely that this bill will pass the U.S. Senate.
  2. Tennessee Joining Other States with Mandatory E-Verify

    By Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

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    The Tennessee Legislature, with the Governorís signature, has amended its non-mandatory E-Verify law to a mandatory E-Verify law, effective January 1, 2017.

    In 2012, the State of Tennessee began to require large employers to use E-Verify or copy and maintain one of 11 identification documents, such as U.S. passport, permanent resident card, Employment Authorization card, driverís license, and State of Tennessee ID card of all new hires. At the time of passage in 2011, there were a number of organizations opposing mandatory E-Verify, including the Chamber of Commerce. Beginning in 2013, the law expanded to cover employers with six or more employees; thus covering most employers in the State.

    In the 2016 legislative session, it decided to revise E-Verify to make it mandatory for all new hires of employers with 50 or more employees. This portion of the statute is effective January 1, 2017. This change puts Tennessee in line with most other southern states, though the 50 or more employees is a higher number than other states.

    As for penalties, if an employer fails to verify the work authorization of an employee, it will be fined $500 for a first violation, and moves upwards from there. If an employer refuses to comply with the State order, it faces a fine of $500 per day.

    If any of the employees are undocumented, the State will suspend the employerís business license until it complies with the state law Ė verify the employee is authorized to work through E-Verify.

    The action by the Tennessee Legislature is somewhat unusual as the last state to pass mandatory E-Verify was North Carolina in 2012. Also, in 2012, Pennsylvania passed a law to add E-Verify for state contractors. These are the last states to pass E-Verify legislation.

    The threshold of 50 or more employees seems to be a compromise to get additional support from the super-majority Republicans in the legislature, many of which have strong ties to businesses. By using the 50-employee threshold, the law will not affect an enormous number of state businesses and many of the larger employers, such as International Paper and Singer Sewing, already use E-Verify to authorize their new hires.
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