South Carolina employees have been warned by the State's Department of Labor that they must utilize E-Verify to check employees' work-authorization status or face immediate penalties under South Carolina's "Illegal Immigration and Reform Act." Jim Knight of South Carolina's Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, the state agency overseeing immigration compliance, stated: "There is no free bite at the apple after July 1."  The statute has a 6-month grace period before
the penalties are enforced.


This signals the end of a grace period designed to enable employers to sign up for E-Verify. The requirement that South Carolina-based employers verify workers' employment eligibility through E-Verify began with the state's 2008 immigration law and first went into effect in July 2010.


Governor Nikki Haley signed Amendments to the "South Carolina Illegal Immigration and Reform Act" on June 27, 2011, which set the effective date as January 1, 2012.   Between January 1, 2012 and June 30, 2012, employers who were found to be out of compliance received warnings for a first
violation.


Under the new enforcement scheme, however, a first violation carries a one-year probation requiring businesses to submit quarterly reports to the state's Department of Labor and a place on the agency's website for six months. A second violation within three years requires the business to be shut down between 10 days and 30 days through the temporary suspension of their operating
licenses. Plus, the employer will be permanently featured online. In addition, an agency determination that an employer knowingly hired an illegal immigrant and failed to use E-Verify raises the penalty from an automatic, temporary suspension and $1,000 fine to a potential permanent shutdown through the revocation of all business licenses.


If you operate a business in South Carolina, you must comply with the E-Verify law. If your company is new to E-Verify, you should consult with an immigration compliance attorney.