Florida to Require E-Verify for Employers With 25 or More Employees in the State

Written by Alina Charniauskaya-Mehta and Jason A. Farkas

Beginning July 1, 2023, employers with 25 or more employees in Florida will be required to use E-Verify to confirm the employment eligibility of new hires, pursuant to Florida Senate Bill (SB) 1718, the new law signed by Governor Ron DeSantis on May 10. Independent contractors – as defined in federal laws or regulations – do not count as employees in determining whether the company is subject to the new law.  Existing employees do not need to be checked through E-Verify.

E-Verify is an internet-based system operated by the United States Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”). It enables participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of new employees. Information entered by an employer from an employee’s Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, is transferred to records available to the DHS and the Social Security Administration to confirm employment eligibility. 

The new law requires subject employers to use E-Verify to confirm the employment eligibility of new hires within three (3) days of hire. If the E-Verify system is not available, employers must complete USCIS Form I-9 and maintain documentary proof that the E-Verify system was inaccessible. All Florida government (state and local) contractor employers, previously mandated to use E-Verify, must continue to do so. The new law is expected to be challenged in federal court, but will go into effect on July 1, 2023 unless we hear otherwise.  We will issue a brief bulletin if there are any changes to the implementation dates.

Penalties for noncompliance: The new law establishes state civil and criminal penalties for employing those without work authorization in the U.S. It also allows state authorities to audit employers’ compliance with the employment eligibility verification requirements. Starting on July 1, 2024, should the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity determine that an employer failed to comply with the E-Verify requirements, it must notify the employer of its determination and provide the employer with 30 days to remedy the noncompliance. Any employer who fails to use the E-Verify system as required three (3) or more times in any 24-month period will be subject to a fine of $1,000 per day and suspension of state-issued licenses until it remedies the noncompliance. 

Practical impact:  Employers with 25 or more employees in Florida will be required to use E-Verify and retain copies of employees’ verification documents for all new hires starting no later than July 1, 2023. 

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