2021 E-Verify Requirements for Florida

E-Verify is becoming an increasingly valuable part of the hiring process in the U.S. but is not currently mandatory for everyone. However, thanks to a law passed in the state of Florida, public and private employers in that state must comply with applicable E-Verify requirements beginning January 1, 2021. It is important to note that the new 2021 E-Verify law for Florida does not replace the current Form I-9 process. If you are one of these businesses or one of their potential employees, read on about the 2021 E-Verify requirements for Florida because your livelihood could depend on it.

About E-Verify

While the Immigration Reform and Control Act that passed in 1986 does requires businesses to verify an individual’s identity and eligibility to be eligible to work via the Form I-9, the E-Verify program is not universally mandatory for all employers.

Those businesses required to utilize the program are usually asked to do so because they are:

  1. Mandated by an official legal ruling,
  2. Entering into federal contracts or subcontracts with a FAR (Federal Acquisition Regulation) E-Verify clause,
  3. Operating in a state whose businesses must use E-Verify.

With the passage of the 2021 E-Verify law in Florida, public businesses in that state are now required to use E-Verify.

How E-Verify Works

By federal law, businesses hiring in the United States must complete the Form I-9 process in full. The document is designed to verify employee information and document authentication. The data collected in this form is then used to complete an E-Verify case.

The program is internet based and businesses must open and complete a new E-Verify case for an employee no later than the third business day after their first day at work. Once the case is completed by an employer, the program then compares that information with data already on file with government agencies.

Depending on the specific situation of the employee in question, E-Verify can typically provide verification results in just a few minutes.

2021 E-Verify Requirements for the State of Florida

The new 2021 E-Verify requirements for the state of Florida were passed in the summer of 2020 and went into effect on January 1, 2021. In order to better understand how the new law will affect businesses and individuals, it is important to breakdown a few differences between:

  • public employers
  • private employers

Public employers are generally defined as entities in either county, local, municipal, regional, or state governments or community colleges, public schools, or state universities who hire people to perform work for them for payment.

According to the new E-Verify law, public employers, contractors and subcontractors in the state of Florida are required to officially enroll in the E-Verify program and utilize it to confirm work eligibility status for all new employees.

Due to this specification, the relationship between public contractors and subcontractors becomes more complicated. Subcontractors have to provide contractors with an affidavit showing that they do not hire or work with unauthorized entities. There are some provisions for unknowingly engaging with a subcontractor in violation of this rule, but resolving the situation can still be difficult.

Private employers are generally defined as an entity or person who transacts business in Florida, has a license issued by a state agency, and employs persons to perform labor or services in Florida in exchange for either salary, wages, or other forms of remuneration. There is no minimum threshold that triggers a private employer’s obligation in Florida to comply with the E-Verify law. The Florida mandate clearly indicates that the first requirement of a private employer is to make an offer of employment to an applicant AND the applicant must accept the offer before the employer takes any action to verify the employee’s work authorization. Once these two criteria are met, a private employer in Florida may choose one of two approaches to verify the new hire’s identity and authorization to work:

  1. Utilize the Federal E-Verify program.
  2. Maintain a physical copy of an employee’s Form I-9 supporting identity and work authorization documents for a minimum of three years post the initial hire date.

One note of particular importance under this new law is that in most cases, Florida private employers are not required to verify work eligibility of a continuing employee hired before 2021.

What Could Happen If You Violate the New 2021 E-Verify Law for Florida

For both public and private companies who have done business in Florida for many years prior, this new law can bring sweeping change, and with it an overwhelming amount of work. While all the extra effort required may be tempting to ignore, it is illegal to do so.

Depending on the unique set of circumstances surrounding each violation, those who do not abide by the new Florida E-Verify law may face significant punitive consequences that could result in:

  • Licenses being withheld until an affidavit is provided,
  • Permanent revocation of licenses for a specific business location,
  • Complete revocation of licenses for a business to operate.

No business wants to find themselves without a license to operate when a little extra legwork to comply with the new Florida E-Verify law could have easily prevented it.

How To Simplify the E-Verify Process with Digital Form I-9 Compliance Software

One of the most overwhelming aspects of the Form I-9 and E-Verify process for employers is that it requires a great deal of information processing, which can lead to costly errors. However, employers may find that using digital I-9 compliance software can provide two key perks when it comes to also using E-Verify for employee work eligibility verification:

  1. Accuracy. Digital compliance software is designed to help employees and employers complete an I-9 form with minimal chances of human error. This is key as the information entered digitally into a Form I-9 is then used to auto-populate E-Verify program fields. The minimization of human error in one program leads to the same in E-Verify.
  2. Efficiency. To fill out a Form I-9 for an employee by hand and then manually enter information into an E-Verify case can be time consuming because it is twice the work, something many employers just don’t have time for. By using a digital Form I-9, it allows that information to be seamlessly transferred to E-Verify case fields without much extra effort. The software can save employers valuable time in the long run.

Any business in Florida should consider incorporating digital I-9 software that integrates with E-Verify into their hiring processes to ensure compliance and avoid common mistakes.

What Should Be Included In I-9 Software

Although companies have been performing employee eligibility verification since the passage of the Immigration and Reform Control Act of 1986, there is an increased urgency for businesses to be compliant and ready for an audit. In the last several years, there has been an uptick in the number of workplace audits and investigations regarding Form I-9 compliance. For this reason, employers are turning to digital I-9 software as a resource, but before partnering with a provider, companies need to be crystal clear on what should be included in I-9 software.

What is Digital I-9 Software?

Onboarding an employee is time intensive all on its own, especially for those businesses that have dozens of employees and/or multiple locations. For every employee that is hired, the law requires a Form I-9 be completed to verify their eligibility to work within the United States. Each form has three sections with individual instructions, guidelines, and deadlines.

Digital Form I-9 software can be helpful in streamlining this process by making it paperless and minimizing human error, which can sometimes cause compliance issues that come with heavy penalties.

What Features Should Be Included In Form I-9 Software?

Digital I-9 software is designed to be an efficient, user friendly, comprehensive product that helps employers navigate everything from the Form I-9 to the E-Verify program requirements. Some of the features clients should expect in a reputable I-9 software should include:

Minimization of Errors.

A Form I-9 with an incomplete field, empty field, or missing signature can all be red flags for compliance, but an intelligent I-9 software program with dynamic prompts should minimize the amount of these errors by providing instant alerts to employers prior to submitting a form.

Assistance Confirming Acceptable Documents.

USCIS defines a set outline of acceptable documents, and employees must provide an employer with both an approved identificationa and a work authorization document. Employers are required to collect and review these documents for authenticity to the best of their abilities and by specific guidelines set forth in the Form I-9. An intelligent I-9 software will help employers by providing samples of the listed acceptable document which they can compare to the documents provided by the employee.

Deadline Alerts and Audit Log.

A good I-9 software program will provide several options for employers to manage their compliance responsibilities including a management dashboard, e-mail alerts for impending deadlines where work authorization re-verification is required or other E-Verify compliance actions are required. On demand management reports for monitoring compliance are also key to any effective I-9 software. An audit trail, or otherwise called “change history” of all I-9 form changes should be available in the I-9 software for all forms that require updates during the required retention period of the employee’s form.

Integration.

Integration is key to efficiency, and the very best digital I-9 software will be integrated with E-Verify and will provide an option to be seamlessly integrated with an employer’s on-boarding and payroll systems, creating an exceptional user experience for both the employee and HR professionals involved in completing the Form I-9.

Document Retention and Accessibility.

Whether it is for a mock audit or the impromptu real thing, employers should have software that will grant them access to forms as needed. In addition, the software should assist an employer in managing the proper retention policies for all I-9 forms.

Security.

High performing security and privacy protocols must be put in to place to securely encrypt and store sensitive information.

Why Businesses Need Digital I-9 Software with E-Verify Integration

While it is not advisable, even employers who think they can adequately handle the above tasks for every new hire they have on their own will find the I-9 software to be particularly valuable when working with the federal E-Verify program.

A few features of digital I-9 software that can be advantageous when also working with E-Verify can be:

  • Single data entry. Reputable digital I-9 software should have the ability to auto populate E-Verify fields with the information from the Form I-9 which can help cut down on additional incidence of human error.
  • Duplication alerts. A software program can usually detect duplicate form entries before submitting through E-Verify, which notifies employers of potential social security fraud.
  • Save time. By using a reputable I-9 software that is integrated with E-Verify, the employer can seamlessly perform all required compliance actions involving the tentative non-confirmation notices to employees as an employee notice feature is built into the workflow of a digital I-9 software, avoiding time consuming manual steps and tracking.

If your company is already stretched to its limits in handling new hires or is interested in simply streamlining a sometimes-cumbersome process, consider digital I-9 software to add valuable peace of mind to the hiring process.