What You Should Know About Florida’s E-Verify Laws

What You Should Know About Florida's E-Verify Laws

Employing foreign nationals is a common way to bring new talent into your business. However, state and federal laws strictly regulate the employment of people who do not have U.S. citizenship or a green card. If a worker is not eligible for employment in the U.S., their employer can face significant penalties for hiring them. 

This is particularly true in Florida. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) has recently begun enforcing the state’s E-Verify law regarding hiring unauthorized workers much more strictly than in the past. Here’s what you need to know about E-Verify requirements in Florida and how they may impact your business.

What Is Florida’s E-Verify Law?

In Florida, employers must verify that their employees are eligible to work in the United States after they have accepted an offer of employment. This law went into place on January 1st, 2021. Companies must use the digital E-Verify system or maintain copies of the documentation required by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on Form I-9. 

The E-Verify system is provided by USCIS and the federal government, but it is not mandatory in most states. Florida stands out by requiring this verification for almost all workers. In addition, employers must maintain records of employees’ E-Verify results for three years after they start work. There is no minimum number of employees a business must have for this law to apply. If a company pays someone a salary or wages that require an I-9, they must verify their employment eligibility. 

This is intended to ensure that all employees in the state are legally permitted to work in the U.S. The legislation is designed to protect jobs for local residents and reduce the appeal of Florida as a location for illegal immigrants. However, it also makes the hiring process more complex and may pose legal issues for employers who fail to comply. 

If the DEO determines a company has not verified employment eligibility, it will notify the employer and issue a warning. This warning will order the organization to sign an affidavit confirming that it will begin verifying eligibility immediately, confirm all employees’ eligibility, and fire ineligible workers immediately. 

Should an employer fail to do so, the DEO will order the appropriate licensing agencies to suspend the company’s operational licenses until it complies. Furthermore, three violations within three years can lead to the permanent revocation of any licenses the business requires to operate at the location that hires the ineligible workers. 

Compliance With E-Verify Laws

Complying with Florida’s E-Verify laws is critical if an organization wishes to remain operational. No matter how many or how few employees you have, you must follow the regulations to avoid unnecessary legal penalties. You can maintain compliance with this employment law by:

  • Immediately implementing E-Verify checks for employees who accept offers of employment. The E-Verify program adds an additional step to the hiring process, but it is designed to be relatively simple. You are already required to have your employees fill out an I-9, and the E-Verify program uses the same documents and information. You can take the data from the I-9 and submit it directly to the E-Verify program as part of your pre-employment process.
  • Saving copies of I-9 forms for all employees. If you do not wish to use the E-Verify program, you can maintain copies of the documents your employees provide for their I-9 forms. This may include their passports, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, visas, green cards, and other identifying information that proves their citizenship or work authorization.
  • Post an E-Verify Participation poster on worksites if necessary. All employers participating in the E-Verify program must notify workers that their information is being submitted. You must also post an official notice to remind your employees about this fact. 

Expert Legal Counsel for New E-Verify Requirements

As a Florida employer, you must follow the new E-Verify law or risk losing your license to operate. If you have questions or concerns about complying with this hiring law, do not hesitate to reach out to the expert employment law attorneys at EPGD Business Law. Our skilled associates can help you revise your hiring procedures to follow state law and provide legal counsel if you have received a notice of non-compliance from the DEO.

EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*

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*The following comments are not intended to be treated as legal advice. The answer to your question is limited to the basic facts presented. Additional details may heavily alter our assessment and change the answer provided. For a more thorough review of your question please contact our office for a consultation.

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