By: Brice Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

Add Florida to the states that require E-Verify to be used by some employers when verifying the work authorization of newly hired employees. However, it is substantially “watered down” legislation from Governor Ron DeSantis’ original goal of E-Verify being mandatory for all employers. Furthermore, it is not a giant leap from the Executive Order that has been in place for the last 9 years.

The legislation, which was effective July 1, 2020, requires only public employers, such as local school districts, public universities, and state agencies, as well as their private contractors to use E-Verify. Private employers are not mandated to use E-Verify unless they have a contract with a public employer, or they apply for taxpayer-funded incentives through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. Additionally, the legislation requires businesses that do not use E-Verify, to keep a three-year record of documents used by applicants when filling out a Form I-9. This additional requirement is an extension from the federal law requirements, which do not require employers to make copies of supporting documentation and retain them although it is a recommended best practice.

Many business groups came out against the full E-Verify proposal, saying it would be a major hit to Florida’s top industries that rely heavily on undocumented workers, like tourism and agriculture. These business groups were influential in persuading the Florida House and Senate to abandon E-Verify to be mandatory for all employers in Florida.

In 2011, then Governor Rick Scott signed an Executive Order stating E-Verify must be utilized by all agencies under the direction of the governor and contractors and subcontractors of those same state government agencies. Thus, this legislation expands E-Verify from agencies under the direction of the governor to all public employers and contractors with those public agencies.

If you desire to learn about your state’s laws concerning immigration compliance for employers, I recommend you read Chapter 16 in The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at