Amendments to the “South Carolina Illegal Immigration and Reform Act” were signed into law by Governor Nikki Haley on June 27, 2011(Read More).  The amended law requires all employers to enroll in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify system beginning January 1, 2012 and to verify the legal status of all new employees through E-Verify within three business days.  Failure to enroll in and use E-Verify to verify new hires will result in probation for the employer or suspension/revocation of the employer’s business licenses.  The law states that employers can no longer accept state issued driver’s license or identification card as proof of employment eligibility. Under the law, all private employers in South Carolina are imputed a South Carolina employment license which permits a private employer to employ a person in the state. A private employer may not employ a person unless the private employer’s South Carolina employment license and any other applicable licenses. Harboring an unauthorized alien knowingly can lead to revoking of employment license.

For a first failure to verify a new hire through E-Verify within three business days before July 1, 2012, an employer must affirm in writing to the LLR that the employer has complied with federal laws covering employment of unauthorized aliens from January 1, 2012 until notification by LLR of a violation, and should comply with the E-Verify requirements within three business days of notification. A subsequent violation within three years will result in the suspension of the private employer’s licenses (employment, business) for at least 10 days, but not more than 30 days.

For a first failure to verify a new hire through E-Verify within three business days after July 1, 2012, LLR will place the employer on probation for a period of one year, during which time the employer must submit quarterly reports to the agency demonstrating compliance with the law. A subsequent violation within three years will result in the suspension of the private employer’s licenses (employment, business) for at least 10 days, but not more than 30 days.

A private employer who knowingly or intentionally employs an unauthorized alien must have his licenses suspended by the Department of LLR on a first occurrence for at least 10 days but not more than 30 days.  During the period of suspension, the private employer may not engage in business, open to the public, employ an employee, or otherwise operate.  The private employer’s licenses are reinstated when the employer demonstrates that the unauthorized alien has been terminated, and pays a reinstatement fee equal to the cost of investigating and enforcing the matter, not to exceed $1,000.  For a second occurrence, the employer’s licenses must be suspended for at least 30 days but not more than 60 days. Following a third occurrence, the private employer’s licenses are revoked.

Since that amendment, state authorities have traveled extensively to promote awareness of E-Verify. Those efforts won’t end anytime soon, according to Catherine Templeton, director of the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. For private employers in South Carolina, it’s time to get in line with these laws as non-compliance can land them with hefty fines and negative publicity. Setting up a system to consistently integrate and monitor a verification process should be taken up on priority.

Disclaimer: The content of this post does not constitute direct legal advice and is designed for informational purposes only. Any issues regarding compliance and obligations under United States or International laws or regulations should be addressed through your legal department or outside counsel.