State Law Imposes New Requirements on Cities to Comply with Federal SAVE and E-Verify Programs

September 29, 2011

Last updated August 19, 2013.
The Georgia General Assembly passed legislation during the 2011 Legislative Session that expanded the scope of Georgia’s cities responsibilities to comply with the federal work authorization program, currently known as E-Verify, and with the federal Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) program.
E-Verify is a federal program operated by the United States Department of Homeland Security designed to verify the employment eligibility information of newly hired employees. E-Verify will require your city to renew its password every two months, so it is important to log-in to the E-Verify program on occasion to ensure that your password is up to date, even if your city has not done any hiring.
SAVE is a federal program used to verify that applicants for certain “public benefits” are legally present in the United States. The Attorney General of Georgia is tasked with creating a list of applicable “public benefits” each year and such list can be found on the Department of Law's website. For your convenience, the website has been linked in the Resources box to the right of this article. SAVE registration requires the completion of three documents, a Memorandum of Agreement, an Addendum to that Memorandum of Agreement, and an Anticipated Collections Addendum. The Anticipated Collections Addendum will need to be renewed yearly, based upon your fiscal year. The SAVE program will send a reminder to the registered email address forty-five (45) days before the end of your fiscal year that the Anticipated Collections Addendum needs to be renewed.

Please Note: E-Verify and SAVE are two different federal programs with two different tasks and requirements. With few exceptions, cities are required to register and comply with both programs.
There are many requirements created by Georgia’s immigration laws and it is important that city officials and employees understand their responsibilities under the law. Penalties for failing to comply with Georgia’s immigration laws could include fines of up to $10,000, criminal prosecution, removal from office and loss of qualified local government status.  To that end, GMA has provided a number of resources in the box to the right to help you and your city comply with the law. Additionally, it is important to know that the law now has three separate reporting requirements, a short description of each is listed below:

Public Benefits – SAVE – Reporting
Effective on January 1, 2010, both state and local governmental agencies that provide or administer public benefits are to begin filing annual reports with the Department of Community Affairs ( DCA). The first annual reports are due no later than January 1, 2011. DCA’s online Public Benefits Reporting System (PBRS), linked in the Resources box, is the sole method by which public entities can meet this annual reporting requirement. These reports must identify public benefits provided and/or administered and report each public benefit for which the Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification of Entitlements (SAVE) authorization for verification has not been received.

Public Works Contracts – E-Verify – Reporting
Beginning on December 31, 2011, both state and local governmental agencies that enter into contracts for the " physical performance of services" are required to submit a compliance report to the state auditor certifying compliance with the requirement to obtain affidavits from any contractor who bids or contracts with the agency for the physical performance of labor. In 2011 the reports should include all public works contracts from July 1, 2011, to the end of the year. Cities are only responsible for obtaining affidavits from those contractors with whom the city is in direct contract. The contractor will be responsible for collecting affidavits from any subcontractor. The Department of Audits and Accounts has provided numerous resources on its website, which is linked in the Resources box. The first annual reports are due no later than December 31, 2011. The reports are required to contain the city’s E-Verify user number and date of authorization and identification and E-Verify information related to each and every contractor who contracts with the city.

Occupational Tax Certificates and other Licenses – E-Verify – Reporting
Starting on December 31, 2012, any city that issues an occupational tax certificate, also known as a business license, or any other license required to operate a business will be required to submit an annual compliance report to the Department of Audits and Accounts demonstrating compliance with the requirement that the city obtain affidavits from private employers. The affidavits must verify that the private employer has signed up and is using E-Verify. These requirements are effective for employers with 500 or more employees on January 1, 2012, for employers with more than 100 employees on July 1, 2012, and for employers with more than 10 employees on July 1, 2013. If an employer has 10 or fewer employees then they must sign an affidavit stating the provisions do not apply to them. The annual report will require the city to identify each certificate or license issued by the city in the previous twelve months and include identification and E-Verify information on each business. The first annual reports are due no later than December 31, 2012. 

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