The law, aimed at curbing illegal immigration, kicks in July 1. It requires private companies with more than 100 employees to verify the legal status of new employees by requiring proof of either a South Carolina driver's license or identification card or a license from another state with equally strict eligibility requirements. Companies also can use the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's online E-verify system.
The requirements are part of the South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act, which the General Assembly passed last year. The first phase of the act went into effect Jan. 1 and required public employers and government contractors to begin verifying the legal status of new hires.
Companies face fines of up to $1,000 for each offense, and suspension or loss of their business licenses for repeat offenses. The law will be enforced through random auditing by the state Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.
According to the SC LLR website, businesses that opt not to use the federally-provided E-Verify system must require new employees to present valid state-issued IDs from South Carolina or any of the other following states, which are considered to be pretty hard to fake:
AK, AZ, CT, FL, GA, ID, IN, ME (credentials issued after 11/15/08), MA, MI, NH, NJ, PA, RI, TX and VA.
This means licenses from states not listed above, as well as the bogus "International Driver's License", are not valid for identification for the purpose of complying with the S.C. IIRA.
Whether you use E-Verify or opt to accept an ID from one of the above states, you are still required to follow the federal I-9 form process. As someone who does hiring, I'll tell you that complying with these requirements is so simple, that there's no excuse for not abiding by the terms of this new state law.
I use the E-Verify system as part of the HR work I do for my company. It takes minutes to authorize US citizens for employment, and it took less that 48 hours to flag someone who may have been using fradulent work visa documents (that employee opted to quit). While there are some concerns about the requirement that employers who use E-Verify must open their personnel files to inspection by the feds, my company has been using E-Verify for over a year now and we haven't had any problems.
E-Verify is an easy way to comply and take the guesswork out of hiring, especially if your HR staff doesn't know what a driver's license from Arizona or Maine looks like. If you have any questions about using E-Verify, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be glad to discuss the my experience with that verification system.
In the next posting, I'll discuss the fallacy of the "International Driver's License". Trusting these documents can result in a company hiring an illegal alien and create the potential considerable financial liability. If you're one of my readers who actually works in the private sector and is responsible for human resources, you'll want to read this.