New Utah Immigration Law

Utah has passed an innovative new immigration law that creates a guest worker program, in direct conflict with federal law.


On March 15, 2011 Governor Gary Herbert signed the Immigration Accountability and Enforcement Amendments Act. The ceremony took place at the state capitol in Salt Lake City.


Under the new Utah immigration law, undocumented workers would pay $2.500 for a guest worker permit that allows them to be employed in Utah. Undocumented workers could also apply for a family permit, which would allow all members of the immediate family to work in Utah.


The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2013.Implementation is complex, because currently the guest worker and his employer would still be in violation of federal immigration laws, including the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act or IRCA of 1986. That law imposes penalties on any employer Continue reading

Avoid Common I-9 Audit Mistakes

Federal agencies are focusing on I-9 audits resulting in civil and criminal prosecutions of employers who hire undocumented workers, rather than immigration raids to round up and deport illegal aliens. I-9 audits are conducted by ICE, the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.


Retail giant Abercrombie and Fitch recently paid penalties of $1.04 million after an I-9 audit of stores in Michigan – even though they had not hired a single undocumented worker. The company relied on an internally developed software program to produce and track I-9s. The software omitted an essential question, requiring the employee to attest to citizenship or legal immigration status. Because this feature was omitted, the company did not have a valid, complete I-9 form on even one employee in the state.


In California, a company president faces criminal charges for hiring illegal workers after an I-9 audit. As ICE seeks civil and criminal penalties against executives and managers, an I-9 audit is no longer merely an annoyance.


Even if no criminal prosecution occurs, violators can face fines of $100 to $1,100 per employee for even the simplest of I-9 errors. The majority of I-9 audits occur as a result of tips by disgruntled employees, or violations of other employment regulations.


Employers can use a variety of techniques to avoid penalties and criminal prosecution during an I-9 audit: Continue reading

Utah E-Verify Law

The Utah E-Verify law that went into effect on July 1, 2010 offers some unique benefits to employers.


While the law does not require that all Utah employers use E-Verify, an employer who does so will be able to avoid penalties and fines under state law, if the employer unintentionally hires an undocumented worker.


The Utah E-Verify law does not protect an employer who knowingly hires illegal workers, even if they pass E-Verify using forged documents or inaccurate information. Nor does it protect Utah employers from federal sanctions if they are found to have hired illegal aliens. However, in the past some employers have escaped federal as well as state penalties when they could show a good-faith effort to determine that employees were legally authorized to work in the U.S. Using E-Verify Continue reading

South Carolina Immigration Update

Effective July 1, 2010 even the smallest employers in South Carolina are covered by the state’s tough immigration law. Employers with 100 or more workers were covered beginning July 1, 2009 but compliance for smaller companies was delayed.


The South Carolina Illegal Immigration Reform Act prohibits a business from employing undocumented workers. Smaller employers must now follow additional steps to very the work status of new hires.


A free online training program for employers is available here.


Any employer who violates the law is subject to strict penalties including suspension of the business license. Repeated violations would result in the not being allowed to hire any workers in the future, essentially forcing the employer out of business.


South Carolina employers must verify the legal work status of all newly hired employees. An employer can use E-Verify to meet this requirement. E-Verify is a joint venture between the Department of Homeland Security, Social Security and Customs and Immigration, that verifies and confirms the authenticity of documents submitted at hiring. The program is free and Continue reading

South Carolina Immigration Update

The South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation or SCLLR recently announced that it has hired 10 new inspectors to ensure that every employer follows the state’s tough immigration codes.


Employers in South Carolina need to be scrupulous in following the state’s immigration and hiring laws, including the SCIIRA or South Carolina illegal Immigration Reform Act. This law is enforced thought the Office of Immigrant Worker Compliance in Columbia.


The SCIIRA currently applies to employers with more than 100 workers. The statute requires employers in South Carolina to use E-Verify or a similar program to make certain that new hires and current employees are legally entitled to work in the U.S. Employers can require a South Carolina driver’s license or I.D. card or those from 26 other states, instead of using E-Verify.


Beginning July 1, 2010, employers with fewer than Continue reading

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