How Can an Employer in Alabama Verify the Legal Presence of Their Employees?

On April 1, 2012, the Beason-Hammon Alabama Taxpayer & Citizen Protection Act (Act 2011-535) that was signed by Governor Robert Bentley stated that all employers within the State of Alabama are required to verify the legal presence of their employees [Source: Alabama Immigration Information Center]. In order to comply with this requirement, employers must have their newly hired employees fill out Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification and request that the employee provide them with an acceptable document that proves their identity and employment authorization.

 

The employer must then follow these next steps:

 

  1. The employer will need to review Form I-9 and the identity document(s) that were presented to them “to determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and to relate to the employee and record the document information on the Form I-9.”
  2. Employers are required to retain Form I-9 for a specific period of time and have it readily available in the event an authorized government officer chooses to conduct an inspection.

 

Now, an employer can also verify the legal status of an employee by using the E-Verify web-based system which allows those who are enrolled with the system to confirm whether their newly hired employees are eligible to work in the U.S. When an employer chooses to use the E-Verify system, it allows them to check the identity and employment eligibility of their employees “by electronically matching information provided on the [employee’s I-9] against records available to the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).”

Although the E-Verify program is voluntary, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) states that certain employers with federal contracts or subcontracts that contain the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify clause must enroll in E-Verify as a condition of federal contracting.

 

What happens if an employer fails to comply with the legal requirements stimulated above?

 

The USICS states that when an employer engages in one or more of the following acts, they may be subjected to paying civil fines:

  • “Knowingly hired or knowingly recruited or referred for a fee, an unauthorized alien for employment in the United States or to have knowingly continued to employ an unauthorized alien in the United States.”
  • Failed to comply with Form I-9 employment verification requirements.
  • Committed or participated in “document fraud for satisfying a requirement or benefit of the employment verification process or the Immigration Nationality Act (INA).”
  • Committed document abuse.
  • Engaged in “unlawful discrimination against an employment-authorized individual in hiring, firing, or recruitment or referral for a fee.”
  • Failed to “notify the DHS of a Final Nonconfirmation (FNC) of an employee’s employment eligibility.”
  • Required “an individual to post a bond or security or to pay an amount or otherwise to provide financial guarantee or indemnity against any potential liability arising under the employment verification requirements.”

An employer may face criminal charges if they:

  • Engage “in a pattern or practice of hiring, recruiting or referring for a fee unauthorized aliens.”

 

It is important that employers take the time to familiarize themselves with the process they must follow in terms of verifying whether their newly hired employees are legally permitted to work in the U.S. Not only are employers required by law to fulfill this requirement, but if they choose not to, it could potentially jeopardize their business. Therefore, if you are an employer in Birmingham, AL who would like assistance with verifying your employees’ work eligibility status, contact USAttorneys.com.

We can connect you with a local immigration attorney in Birmingham, AL who will ensure you comply with all state and federal requirements and help you handle any issues that may arise in the process of doing so.