Alabama Employers of One or More Must Enroll in E-Verify
Alabama businesses with one or more employees working in Alabama must enroll with the federal E-Verify system as of April 1, 2012, under the state’s immigration law Alabama enacted in 2011 and revised in 2012. Sole proprietorships with no employees do not have to enroll with E-Verify.
Every NEW employee in Alabama, no matter their nationality or place of birth, must be deemed employable under the federal E-Verify system.
To enroll your business or organization in the E-Verify system, a free online service of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security, directly from your computer, go to www.uscis.gov/everify
When on that web page, look to the right under the column headed “Start Here.” Click the third item, “Enroll in E-Verify,” to start. Under Multimedia, you may want to view Video: How to Enroll in E-Verify before you begin enrollment. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service has also compiled a customer guide called, “I Am an Employer How Do I … Use E-Verify?”
Employers whose businesses have any government contracts, grants or incentives paid for with local, state or federal funds, should have enrolled with E-Verify before Jan. 1, 2012.
Using E-Verify to check the status of new employees is a safe harbor under the state’s immigration law. E-Verify is also an employer’s only get out of jail card with U.S. Immigration Compliance and Enforcement (ICE).
STATE WILL HELP SMALL BUSINESSES
Those businesses with fewer than 25 employees can enroll through the Alabama Department of Homeland Security. Businesses with 25 or fewer employees can access the E-Verify service via the Internet at http://immigration.alabama.gov or by calling 1-855-VERIFY-6 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
NEED EIN/FEDERAL TAX ID TO USE E-VERIFY
All businesses must have an Employer Identification Number (EIN) — also known as a Federal Tax Identification Number — to use E-Verify. If you do not have one, this number can be obtained through the Internal Revenue Service via an online application.
Or a business can call the IRS at 1-800-829-4933 Monday through Friday, between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. C.S.T. , to apply for an EIN number.
DOWNLOAD POSTERS ONCE ENROLLED
Once enrolled and using E-Verify to screen new employees, a business needs to “clearly display” English and Spanish E-Verify posters as well as Right to Work posters in a place where every new hire has the opportunity to view them. This is different placement from your regular workplace posters. If you cannot put the posters in a location that all new hires will see, then you must provide them to each new hire. Alabama Retail canNOT provide these posters to you as you can only access them once you are logged into E-Verify as a registered user of the service. You should be prompted to download these free posters when you complete the online E-Verify tutorial.
E-Verify also recommends that you provide these notices with job application materials, either online or in hard copy.
EMPLOYERS WITH FORMAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH GOVERNMENTAL ENTITIES
If your business has a formal relationship with any state, county or city government, you must provide documentation to the governmental entity with which you have a business relationship that your business is enrolled with the E-Verify system.
STEPS FOR EMPLOYERS
- Enroll in the E-Verify system, a free online service of the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security. Go to dhs.gov/E-Verify
If you have 25 or fewer employees and do not have access to the Internet, call 1-855-VERIFY-6 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This toll-free number is provided by the Alabama Department of Homeland Security, which will complete the E-Verify process for your employees. For more information, go to: http://immigration.alabama.gov
- Properly fill out a federal Form I-9 for each employee you hire. All employees hired after Nov. 6, 1986, should have an I-9 in his/her personnel file. Do NOT backdate or update completed I-9s. Good faith 1-9 compliance is the first line of defense for both federal and state enforcement actions.
- Train supervisors and human resources personnel on Form I-9 and E-Verify. The E-Verify system is only as good as the information collected, and the information on the 1-9 must be entered in E-Verify. Two documents that should be required reading and kept on hand: the Handbook for Employers: Instructions for Completing Form I-9, the June 1, 2011, revision and E-Verify User Manual for Employers (June 2013 is latest version).
- Consider an I-9 audit. Law firms specializing in employment law should be able to complete such an audit for you.
- Add an E-Verify policy in your employee handbook. The sample handbook in Alabama Retail’s online Employment Law Resource Center contains an E-Verify policy.
- Terminate any employee if you become aware of their ineligibility for employment. Even your best employee must be terminated if they are in the country illegally. The penalties are too stiff for employers to consider violating the law.
If a business owner is found to have knowingly employed illegal workers under Alabama’s new immigration law, the penalties are steep. Like the E-Verify provisions, the penalties are expected to survive the pending court challenges.
- FIRST VIOLATION: Results in a three-year probationary period and up to a 10-day business license suspension. To get the suspension lifted, businesses must provide a sworn affidavit within three days of the suspension that any unauthorized alien has been terminated and that the employer is and will stay in compliance with the law; AND provide the court with a copy of the 13-page memorandum of understanding issued when the employer enrolled in E-Verify.
- SECOND VIOLATION: Permanent business license and business permit revocation at the specific location, or locations, where the violation occurred. Violations are tied to the company, not the job site or location, consequently second and subsequent violations can occur even if not at the same workplace.
- SUBSEQUENT VIOLATIONS: Employer will no longer be allowed to operate anywhere in the state of Alabama.
Federal fines for knowingly hiring or continuing to employ unauthorized aliens range from $375 to $16,000.
SOURCES: F. Keith Covington, Bradley Arant Boult and Cummings; Thomas “Tommy” M. Eden III, Constangy, Brooks & Smith; Edward A. “Ted” Hosp, Maynard Cooper and Gale; Wendy Padilla-Madden, Balch & Bingham; and Michael L. Thompson, Lehr Middlebrooks & Vreeland.