A state law requiring verification of employees’ legal standing to work in the United States is rolling out. Consequently, employers should become familiar with the law as quickly as possible. For employers that employ 100 or more but less than 500 employees, the effective date is January 1, 2013. For employers that employ 25 or more but less than 100 employees, the effective date is July 1, 2013. For purposes of determining your company’s effective date, consider only the number of employees working in North Carolina.

An employer covered by the law must register for and start using the federal government’s E-Verify program to verify newly hired employees’ eligibility to work. E-Verify is a free online system that serves as an additional verification to employers’ standard Form I-9 obligations. With E-Verify, information is checked against data contained in federal databases at Homeland Security and the Social Services Administration. All U.S. employers must complete and retain an I-9 Form for each individual they hire in the U.S. An employer covered by the law will be required to enter a new hire’s information reported on the Form I-9 into the E-Verify program to determine the eligibility of that employee to work in the United States. An employer must retain the records of the verification of the employee’s work authorization during the length of that employee’s employment and for one year after the end of the employment period.

The requirement does not include an employer’s existing employees – only new hires after the effective date(s). It also excludes from coverage seasonal temporary employees who are employed for 90 or fewer days during a 12-consecutive-month period, and the law also does not apply to employers that employ fewer than 25 employees in North Carolina. A rehire is always considered a new hire for E-Verify purposes and therefore must be re-verified upon hire.

Employers begin the E-Verify enrollment process at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s website: https://e-verify.uscis.gov/enroll/StartPage.aspx?JS=YES. E-Verify requires that the employer initiate E-Verify procedures for new employees within three employer business days after the employee has been hired and after the Form I-9 has been completed. E-Verify prohibits the use of E-Verify before an applicant has been hired and before the Form I-9 has been completed.

The employer will be able to print a confirmation or tentative non-confirmation screen containing the E-Verify case verification number for attachment to the employee’s Form I-9.  This document is sufficient to show that the employer has verified the work authorization of the employee in question in accordance with the E-Verify law.

Civil penalties for violations of North Carolina’s E-Verify law are assessed by the North Carolina Commissioner of Labor and range from $1,000 to $10,000.

For more information about instituting an E-verify program, please contact our office at 910.323.3100.