Proposed Changes to North Carolina’s E-Verify Requirements Could Affect More Than 100,000 Additional Employers.
A bill with significant implications for North Carolina employers is now pending in the North Carolina General Assembly, Senate Committee on Rules and Operations. If enacted, House Bill 318, the “Protect North Carolina Workers Act,” would compel tens of thousands of North Carolina businesses to start using E-Verify. E-Verify is an Internet-based system that verifies the identity and work authorization of new hires based on records maintained by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration. Importantly, N.C. House Bill 318 would slash the threshold for mandatory use of the E-Verify system from twenty-five (25) employees to five (5). Other important highlights of the bill include:
- The term “Employee” would be redefined and would no longer include farm workers, independent contractors, or individuals who provide domestic services in a private home that are “sporadic, irregular, or intermittent” in nature.
- The current “temporary worker” exception to the law will be eliminated. Under the current law, workers whose employment term was less than nine months were excepted from E-Verify requirements. Under the new law, however, they would need to be reported through E-Verify.
- Most consulate documents (including a matricula consular and similar documents issued by an embassy or consulate) will no longer qualify as acceptable proof of identity or residency.
- Investigation and enforcement efforts will be increased, to include a new mechanism for holding hearings to determine whether statutory violations have occurred. Public employers and State agencies would be required to confirm that their independent contractors and subcontractors are in compliance with the new law before entering into government contracts
House Bill 318’s sponsor, Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow), said at a press conference during the week of April 20, 2015 that the measure would add about 110,500 employers statewide to the E-verify immigration-check system, while still excluding approximately 150,000 small businesses in North Carolina. “People in the United States illegally cost North Carolina $1.7 billion a year,” Cleveland said. “It's our responsibility to the citizens of our state to make sure that they are not subsidizing illegals.” If passed into law, thousands of employers across the state not previously subject to E-Verify requirements will need to educate themselves on compliance requirements. The progress of House Bill 318 can be tracked here.