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Form I-9 and E-Verify Requirements for Small Employers in Florida

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In a significant development, Florida has enacted SB 1718, a new law that impacts private employers regarding using E-Verify, the digital immigration verification tool. Specifically targeting small employers under 50 employees, this legislation mandates compliance with E-Verify during the onboarding process, starting July 1. This blog post aims to provide essential information and guidance on SB 17

18 for small employers affected by this new requirement.

Here's an abridged version of the key points regarding E-Verify requirements for small employers (over 25 but under 50 employees) in Florida, based on SB 1718:

  • Compliance dates and employee threshold: Starting July 1, small employers with under 50 employees must use E-Verify alongside Form I-9 for new hires.

  • Record retention requirements: Retain relevant documentation and official verifications for at least three years.

  • Compliance presumed: Utilizing E-Verify establishes a presumption of not knowingly employing unauthorized workers.

  • Annual certification (optional): Small employers can voluntarily submit an annual compliance certification when contributing to the state's unemployment or reemployment assistance system.

  • Penalties for noncompliance: Penalties for noncompliance take effect on July 1, 2024. Employers have 30 days to rectify issues upon receiving notice from the Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO).

The changes don't end there! With the approaching end of COVID-19 temporary flexibilities for Form I-9, and Employment Eligibility Verification, it is crucial for small employers to understand the distinction between I-9 compliance and the newly mandated E-Verify requirement in Florida. While SB 1718 focuses on E-Verify, small employers must also avoid the pitfalls of noncompliance with Form I-9.

Form I-9 Requirements:

The recent announcement from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) clarifies that employers must complete in-person physical document inspections for employees whose documents were previously inspected remotely during the temporary flexibilities. This requirement must be fulfilled by August 30, 2023. Small employers must ensure timely compliance with Form I-9, as failure can lead to significant penalties and legal consequences.

E-Verify Compliance:

SB 1718 mandates E-Verify for small employers in Florida. While E-Verify complements Form I-9 by electronically verifying employment eligibility, it is a separate requirement that small employers must fulfill in addition to completing Form I-9 for new hires. E-Verify compliance involves utilizing the digital immigration verification tool and following the specific guidelines set forth by SB 1718.

Small employers in Florida must recognize that Form I-9 and E-Verify compliance are distinct requirements. As the COVID-19 temporary flexibilities for Form I-9 end, completing in-person physical document inspections for affected employees is crucial. Simultaneously, small employers must adhere to the newly mandated E-Verify requirements under SB 1718. By proactively addressing both compliance aspects, small businesses can avoid penalties, mitigate risks, and maintain a strong position in ensuring employment eligibility and immigration compliance.

Note: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed alternative procedures allowing remote document examination for Form I-9, and a Final Rule is anticipated to be published in the Federal Register. Small employers should stay informed about any updates or changes to Form I-9 requirements and seek guidance to ensure ongoing compliance.

As small businesses in Florida prepare to comply with the new E-Verify requirements mandated by SB 1718 and ongoing compliance with the I-9 verification updates, it is crucial to seek expert assistance to ensure a smooth transition and ongoing compliance. KDG Support, a trusted HR consulting firm based in Florida, is ready to support small businesses in navigating the complexities of Form I-9 and E-Verify and maintaining compliance with the law. With our tailored services and expertise, we can help your small business effectively implement processes and procedures to mitigate the risks associated with noncompliance.


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