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What is The Legal Workforce Act?

The Legal Workforce Act was introduced last year in the U.S. House of Representatives by a Texas delegate. It proposed sweeping changes to current law including an extension of the use of E-Verify or an electronic employment eligibility verification system.

The legislation was introduced in the fall of 2017 by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX). It set out many changes to current law. The legislation would require every employer in the U.S. to use E-Verify or an electronic employment eligibility verification system.

The Legal Workforce Act was seen as unlikely to progress in the Senate at the time of introduction.

The Legal Workforce Act

The Legal Workforce Act was introduced in 2017

This is not the first time an extension of E-Verify has been mooted. President Donald Trump has backed the more general use of the system during the election campaign.

E-Verify is an online-based system. It matches up information from the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to federal records stored by the Department of Homeland Security, Social Security Administration, and Department of State. Employers use these records to confirm if a job applicant is authorized to work in the United States.

The key provisions of the Legal Workforce Act include:

  • Compulsory employer participation in the E-Verify. Joining would be phased in over a two-year period based on the size of the employer;
  • Within six months of the enactment of a bill, current workforce employees would have to have their employment eligibility reverified. The provisions would apply to workers requiring a federal security clearance; those assigned to a federal contract; and state, federal, and local government employees.
  • Making conditional job offers conditional on the passing of E-Verify. Currently, the law prohibits use of E-Verify until a job offer is accepted;
  • Starting 30 days after the legislation is enacted, employers would be allowed to voluntarily use E-Verify to check the employment eligibility of any current employee as long as an employer reverified all workers at the same geographic location or those employed within the same job category.
  • Many documents that are currently deemed to be acceptable, would no longer be allowed to prove employment eligibility;
  • Employers would not be liable for an employment action taken with respect to a worker if the employer verifies that worker’s identity and employment eligibility and had a good faith reliance on E-Verify.
  • The legislation would increase penalties brought against employers who knowingly hired or employed unauthorized workers and if they failed to use the E-Verify system or submitted false information to E-Verify knowing it was false.
  • The legislation would allow states to use business licensing and other laws to penalize employers who are not using E-Verify. It would allow states to implement the provisions of the Legal Workforce Act at their own cost if they followed the federal rules and regulations for implementation

While the federal government is supportive of the expansion of E-Verify, there is concern among businesses that the requirement could slow up the hiring process.

The Cato Institute noted in a report that E-Verify could cause delays in the hiring system. If you have an immigration business question please call our Texas immigration law firm at (512) 474-4445.

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