Written by | TABC News, TABC Updates

We are pleased to have Ryan Mercurio, lawyer in our firm’s alcohol licensing division, author the below article which details a major change to Tennessee law for DACA status individuals wishing to participate in the hospitality industry.  Ryan is formerly of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and we are fortunate to have him as a valuable resource for our alcohol and cannabis industry clients. 

In 2022, bipartisan members of the Tennessee General Assembly passed the Workforce Expansion Bill (2022 P.C. 911). This law expands access to professional licenses, including Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Liquor-by-the Drink licenses for restaurants, bars, and caterers. Now, an applicant who can show that he or she is authorized to work in the United States may qualify for a license, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protectees. Prior to this law, DACA individuals were not eligible for TABC licenses or permits.

Previously, the TABC asked whether an applicant who was not a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident had qualified alien status, which disqualified many DACA applicants. Now, an applicant may be eligible if they are verified as “Work Authorized” under the SAVE (Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements) database.

The new law not only applies to TABC restaurant, bar, and hotel licenses, but also expands eligibility for Server Permits, which are required for all bar, restaurant, and catering employees who serve alcohol. This change is expected to significantly increase the hospitality and tourism workforce, which is critical to Tennessee’s economy.

Last modified: May 10, 2024