Last year, the Blogland wrote about South Carolina's Illegal Immigration Reform Act, which was considered one of the most comprehensive in the nation for addressing illegal immigration. One of the key areas of focus in this law was the practice of hiring illegal immigrants by South Carolina businesses.
To help address these issues, SC LLR was tasked with conducting audits, both at random and in response to complaints reported to the agency.
One year and one day after writing about this, my company was the subject of a random compliance audit by LLR and passed with flying colors. This audit process has resulted in over 100 businesses being cited to date.
It's important to know that passing an audit can take a year or more of following the rules for hiring closely, which isn't always an easy thing. As you may know, part of my job is human resources and compliance, so part of my job entails dealing with issues like these. For those readers who are in management or own their own businesses, here are some things you need to know:
Businesses with more than 100 employees must comply with state law regarding establishing the eligibility of employees to work in the United Statees as of 7/1/2009, while those with less than 100 have until July 1 of this year to do so. That means that in a few days, everyone had better be ready to play by the rules - and be able to prove it.
According to the SC LLR website:
In addition to completing and maintaining the federal employment eligibility verification form, more commonly known as the Form I-9, all South Carolina employers must within five days after employing a new employee:
1.Verify the employee’s work authorization through the E-Verify federal work authorization program administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; or2.Verify that the employee possesses a valid South Carolina driver’s license or identification card issued by the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles; is eligible to obtain a South Carolina driver’s license or identification card; or possesses a valid driver’s license or identification card from another state whose qualification requirements are as strict as those of the state of South Carolina.
The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles has determined that drivers’ licenses or identification cards issued by the following states are acceptable: AK, AZ, CT, DE, FL, GA, ID, IN, KS, KY, ME (credentials issued after 11/15/08), MD, MA, MI, MO, MT, NH, NJ, NC, PA, RI, TN, TX, VA, WV and WI.
So what happens to those who get audited and found to not be in compliance with this mandated hiring practice? SC LLR will
Notify the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement of suspected unauthorized aliens,
Notify state and local law enforcement agencies responsible for enforcing state immigration laws, and
Hit employers with a civil penalty of not less than $100 and not more than $1,000 for each violation.
But there's an even bigger penalty: the loss of your workforce. According to the LLR website:
An employer who knowingly or intentionally hires an unauthorized alien faces suspension or revocation of the employer’s imputed license. During the time that the license is suspended or revoked, the employer cannot employ any employees.
Compliance is easy: either make sure you collect the I-9 information or use E-Verify. Either should be done at the time of hiring. As an HR person, I would strongly recommend E-Verify. It's quick, simple to use and it keeps a record of each person who is entered, as well as their status. When you get audited, simply print out the one-page report for each recent hire and show them and you should be fine for your LLR audit.
Got questions about how to make sure your business is ready for an LLR immigration audit? I'll be glad to help, so drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org