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Businesses must comply with state’s immigration law

E-Verify is new tool for employers

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz
Guest speakers Leanne Prybylski (from right), of Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP, and Charlene Smart, of C-Smart Business Solutions, LLC, informed businesses how they can be compliant with HB 87, during a Clayton County Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon.

Photo by M.J. Subiria Arauz Guest speakers Leanne Prybylski (from right), of Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP, and Charlene Smart, of C-Smart Business Solutions, LLC, informed businesses how they can be compliant with HB 87, during a Clayton County Chamber of Commerce’s luncheon.

Private employers in Georgia must soon use a new tool to vet new hires, because of the state’s “Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011” or HB 87, said an Atlanta attorney.

Leanne Prybylski, of Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP, said all private employers must use E-Verify for new hires, in order to maintain their business license or other documents they may need to operate in Georgia.

The attorney was a speaker during the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce’s “Business to Business Luncheon,” on Tuesday at Higher Living Christian Church in Jonesboro.

Clayton County Chairman Eldrin Bell, and representatives from the Clayton County Board of Health, Clayton County Water Authority and Clayton State University were among those present.

Private businesses, with more than 10 employees, will be affected by the act’s phased-in E-Verify requirement, stressed Prybylski. Currently, a private employer with 500 or more employees is required to use this tool. On July 1, private employers with 100 or more workers will fall under the requirement as well, and by July 1, 2013, employers with more than 10 workers, and fewer than 100 employees, will use E-Verify, she said.

“E-Verify creates a rebuttable presumption that an employer did not knowingly hire an unauthorized worker,” she explained.

The attorney said those required to use this tool must visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services web site, at www.uscis.gov.

One must electronically sign the “Memo of Understanding,” download and read the “E-Verify Employer Manual,” and complete the online tutorial, she said. Employers must also display E-Verify posters at all their hiring locations, and enter new hires’ “Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification” information in E-Verify by the third business day after the new hire’s start date, she said.

Prybylski said employees may get four types of results: employment authorized; tentative nonconfirmation; Department of Homeland Security verification authorized; or final nonconfirmation.

Final nonconfirmation is given to an employee after a referral is given by the Social Security Administration or the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, she explained. This means the person is not authorized to work in the United States and the employer must notify both Homeland Security and the employee, and terminate him or her, she said.

An employee should also be notified of a tentative nonconfirmation result, she said. If an employee contests this result, the employer must promptly notify the Social Security Administration or Homeland Security. A business should give an employee an opportunity to fix the issue, during this time.

“Sometimes, it’s just a misspelling of a last name,” she said.

The system, she said, will know if the employee is not working toward fixing his or her problem.

She said this is not a tool to screen applicants, and it should not be used on existing employees, unless it’s a requirement under a federal contract.

“Do not terminate the employee, until you receive the final nonconfirmation from E-Verify, or an employee chooses to not contest a [tentative nonconfirmation],” said Prybylski.

If there are Form I-9 paperwork violations, there will be an $100 to $1,000 fine for each person, she added.

There are penalties for those who knowingly employ illegal aliens, warned Charlene Smart, managing member of C-Smart Business Solutions, LLC. Smart was another speaker at the luncheon.

The civil penalties, she continued, include $250 to $2,000 for each unauthorized alien, for the first violation; $2,000 to $5,000 for each illegal worker for a second violation; and $3,000 to $10,000 for each illegal alien for three or more violations.

Criminal penalties for “pattern and practice” of hiring illegal aliens will also apply and include up to $3,000 for each unauthorized worker, and up to six months in prison, she said.

“They’re putting people in prison for not following process for hiring,” said Smart.