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In light of growing dissatisfaction with the federal immigration system, various states have taken matters into their own hands in an attempt to limit employment of unauthorized aliens. North Carolina has joined the fray, and on July 1, 2013, its E-Verify requirement went into effect for all private employers of 25 or more employees. These employers must now use the federal E-Verify employment eligibility verification system to check work authorization for all new hires. Use of E-Verify offers employers a safe harbor against a later finding that a worker was in fact unauthorized. But there is a catch: before using E-Verify, an employer must sign a non-negotiable Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the DHS. In the MOU, the employer waives its right to a three-day advance notice of an I-9 audit. This means an employer faces the risk of an unannounced visit from ICE without the ability to prepare in advance. Maintaining compliance in North Carolina will require employers to retain verification records during each employee’s employment and for one year after employment ends. Employers do not need to verify work authorization for seasonal or temporary employees who are employed for 90 or fewer days during a 12-month period. The law provides for penalties for employers who fail to use E-Verify, starting with $10,000 for the first violation, with additional penalties for subsequent violations.

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