Changing Immigration Laws across States

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Joanne Deschenaux’s article on ‘State Immigration Laws Lead to Patchwork of Employment Verification Requirements’ on SHRM site takes a look at the increasing state immigration laws that have been passed in the past few months.

The following state bills have been enacted into law in recent months:

Alabama:  House Bill (HB) 56, enacted June 2, 2011, requires employers with state contracts to use E-Verify starting on Jan. 1, 2012. All other employers will be subject to the E-Verify requirement on April 1, 2012.

Georgia: HB 87, enacted May 13, 2011, and known as the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011, will require private employers with 10 or more employees to use E-Verify to confirm the employment eligibility of new hires. This requirement will be implemented in stages and will be effective on Jan. 1, 2012, for employers with 500 or more employees; on July 1, 2012 for employers with 100 or more (but fewer than 500) employees; and on July 1, 2013 for employers with more than 10 (but fewer than 100) employees.

Indiana: Senate Bill (SB) 590, enacted May 10, 2011, and effective July 1, 2011, requires public employers and state contractors to verify workers’ immigration status by using E-Verify. The law authorizes state agencies and political subdivisions to terminate agreements with contractors that knowingly employ unauthorized aliens.

Tennessee: The Lawful Employment Act, enacted June 7, 2011, requires employers to use E-Verify, or to maintain documentation of legal residency or valid U.S. work authorization, for all employees hired after the effective dates. The law takes effect for governmental entities and private employers with 500 or more employees on Jan. 1, 2012. On July 1, 2012, the law will apply to private employers with 200-499 employees, and all employers with more than six employees will be covered as of Jan. 1, 2013.

Utah:  HB 116, enacted March 15, 2011, requires companies with 15 or more employees to verify the employment eligibility of their workers and allows for penalties against businesses that hire unauthorized workers. The law creates a state guestworker program. Lawmakers delayed the act’s effective date to July 1, 2013, to allow time for the state to seek one or more federal waivers and exemptions to authorize it to issue permits to alien guestworkers.

Virginia: HB 1859/S 1049, enacted March 25, 2011, and effective July 1, 2011, requires that employers with more than an average of 50 employees for the previous 12 months that enter into a contract in excess of $50,000 with any state agency use E-Verify. The law debars employers that fail to comply but restores their eligibility upon compliance with the E-Verify program.

What should employers do?

It is important that employers are aware of the state-wise immigration laws that prevail and form staffing policies accordingly. People responsible should be provided with ample information and training to make sure that they’re compliant with legal regulations. The changing legislations have everyone on their toes as employers scramble to make sure their organizations abide by the laws of the state and don’t run into unnecessary fines or negative publicity.

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