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By David Cole
As the end of the year approaches, it is important for all Georgia employers to be aware of new requirements under the Georgia Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011. For cities and counties, their first annual E-Verify reports are due by December 31st, and their SAVE reports are due by January 1st. Beginning January 1st, private businesses with 500 or more employees must use E-Verify. Employers with fewer employees will have to start using E-Verify later in the year or next year.
Contracts for Public Works
Every city and county in Georgia already is required to use E-Verify to verify the employment eligibility of newly hired employees. Once registered, every city and county has to post its E-Verify number and date of authorization on its website. If the city or county does not have a website, it must submit the information to the Carl Vinson Institute of Government for it to post on a centralized website.
A city or county also cannot enter into a contract for the “physical performance of services” unless the contractor signs an affidavit swearing that it, too, uses E-Verify for its employees, and that it will only subcontract with parties that do the same. (There is an exception that allows contractors with no employees to show a state driver’s license if it was issued by a state that verifies immigration status before issuing the license.) The Attorney General has stated that “physical performance of services” only includes contracts for public works or for the maintenance, operation, and repair of buildings or structures. The Department of Audits and Accounts also has created form affidavits that can be downloaded here.
Now, under the new law, cities and counties are required to submit a report to the Department of Audits and Accounts certifying compliance with these requirements by December 31st of each year. This means the first reports are due in just over two weeks on December 31, 2011. The report must identify the city or county’s E-Verify number and date of authorization and the legal name, address, and E-Verify number of every contractor from the past year, as well as the date of the contract between the contractor and the city or county. For this year’s report, cities and counties must include contracts entered into between July 1, 2011, and November 30, 2011. Contracts for December 2011 will need to be included in next year’s report. The Department of Audits and Accounts has created a form report with instructions that can be downloaded here and submitted by e-mail or mail.
Private Employers Must Use E-Verify
The new law also requires that, before a city or county can issue an occupational tax certificate or business license, or any other licenses that may be required to operate a business, it obtain an affidavit from the business stating that it uses E-Verify for all of its new hires or that it is not required to use E-Verify. The Attorney General has created a form affidavit that can be downloaded here.
This means that, eventually, every employer in Georgia with more than 10 employees will have to start using E-Verify. For employers with 500 or more employees, the requirement goes into effect in approximately two weeks on January 1, 2012. For employers with between 100 and 500 employees, it goes into effect on July 1, 2012. For employers with between 10 and 100 employees, it goes into effect on July 1, 2013. The E-verify requirement will not apply to employers with 10 or fewer employees, but when applying for a business license, they will have to sign an affidavit stating they are exempt from the statute.
Beginning on December 31, 2012, every city and county will have to submit a report to the Department of Audits and Accounts demonstrating its compliance with these requirements. The report will have to identify every license or certificate issued in the past year and include the name of each business and its corresponding E-Verify number.
SAVE – Public Benefits
Cities and counties also must be sure they are continuing to use the Systematic Alien Verification of Entitlement (SAVE) program. For every “public benefit” a city or county administers to a person or entity, it must receive an affidavit verifying the person’s lawful presence in the United States. A form affidavit from the Department of Audits and Accounts can be downloaded here, and a list of “public benefits” published by the Attorney General’s office is available here. If the applicant states in the affidavit that he is an alien lawfully present in the United States, the city or county must then verify his eligibility through the online SAVE system.
Every year, cities and counties that administer any public benefit must submit an annual report to the Department of Community Affairs that lists each public benefit it administers and identifies whether there are any recipients of such benefits for whom SAVE verification has not been received. This report must be submitted by January 1, 2012, and can be accomplished by clicking here.
Secure and Verifiable Documentation
Beginning on January 1, 2012, cities and counties must require any person seeking a public benefit, or anything else for which identification is required, to show a “secure and verifiable document.” A “secure and verifiable document” is defined as one issued by a state or federal jurisdiction, or recognized by the United States government, and which is verifiable by federal or state law enforcement, intelligence, or homeland security agencies. For ease of reference, the Attorney General has published a list of “secure and verifiable” documents here.
Supreme Court Review
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed this week to rule on Arizona’s immigration law, which could have implications for Georgia and other states that have enacted similar laws. However, the Supreme Court will only rule on four parts of the Arizona law that require state law enforcement officials to communicate with federal immigration officials and which impose state law penalties for violating federal immigration requirements. These provisions are separate from the parts of Georgia’s law discussed above, so it appears that the Supreme Court’s decision will not affect these parts of the law and that they will go into effect as planned. Only time will tell, however, whether the Supreme Court’s ruling will have broader implications.
For more information, contact David Cole at 770.818.1287 or[email protected].