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Immigration Practice Group

State Representative Gayle Harrell (District 81- Port St. Lucie) and State Senator Thad Altman (District 24 – Melbourne) have filed companion legislative bills, HB1315 and SB 1638, respectively, with provisions relating to the verification of employment eligibility by employers in Florida, including mandatory use of the federal government’s E-Verify system. Both of the bills have been assigned to various committees for review but there is no staff analysis yet for either bill.

E-Verify is a free Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in partnership with the Social Security Administration that provides employers with the ability to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their employees, regardless of citizenship.

The bills are attached below. The preamble to each bill contains a summary of the various provisions. The following are some of the bills’ provisions:

  • An employer is any person or entity transacting business in Florida that employs individuals but does not include a government employer (there are separate provisions for government employers and for contractors and subcontractors involved in contracts with public employers), an employee leasing company if certain conditions are met, labor or services provided by a licensed independent contractor, or an occupant or owner of a private residence that hires casual domestic labor to perform work customarily performed by a homeowner entirely within a private residence;
  • An employer may not employ an unauthorized alien;
  • Beginning January 1, 2013, every employer shall verify the employment eligibility of employees hired after the employer’s registration with E-Verify and failure to do so will result in the loss of the business’ license to do business in Florida until the business has registered with E-Verify and provided an affidavit to that effect;
  • Any person with knowledge of a violation can file a complaint, which will be investigated and for which there will be an administrative hearing;
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the appropriate local law enforcement agency will be notified of the identity and presence of the unauthorized alien;
  • Upon a finding of a violation, an employer shall be ordered to terminate the employment of all unauthorized aliens and file a sworn affidavit of the corrective action taken and if timely action is not taken the licenses held by the employer that are necessary to operate the employer’s business at the location at which the unauthorized alien performed work shall be suspended until the required affidavit is filed;
  • A second violation within a 2 year period will result in the suspension of all licenses for at least 30 days.

There are additional provisions relating to civil liability, immunity and non-liability with respect to employers who properly comply with the E-Verify system in good faith, and other provisions relating to certain actions defined as deceptive and unfair trade practices.  The Gunster Immigration Practice Group and Legislative Affairs staff will be monitoring this legislation and will provide an update on the status of these bills in a future Immigration Bulletin.

For more information:

This publication is for general information only.It is not legal advice, and legal counsel should be contacted before any action is taken which might be influenced by this publication.

Established in 1925, Gunster Yoakley is one of Florida’s oldest and largest full-service law firms.  Its substantial and diversified practice serves an extensive client base of international, national and local businesses, institutions, local governments and prominent individuals.  The firm maintains a strong presence in Florida with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Palm Beach, Stuart, Vero Beach, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Tallahassee, and Tampa. Gunster Yoakley is home to more than 180 attorneys and 329 employees, providing counsel to clients through 18 practice groups including corporate, immigration, employment, technology and emerging companies, tax, banking and financial services, real estate, land use and environmental, business litigation, and private wealth services.

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