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Penalties Increase for Certain Immigration Violations

Employers, beware: You will soon face increased monetary penalties if you violate certain immigration laws. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Attorney General have issued a rule that adjusts for inflation the civil monetary penalties they assess or enforce under the Immigration and Nationality Act. This is the first increase in the civil monetary penalties since 1999, and it represents approximately a 25 percent increase over the current penalties. The increased penalty amounts apply only to violations that occur after the March 27 effective date.

HR Guide to Employment Law: A practical compliance reference manual covering 14 topics, including immigration

  • Hiring, recruiting, and referral sanctions. Under the current provisions, the penalty for knowingly hiring, recruiting, or referring undocumented workers ranges from $275 to $2,200 per individual for a first offense, increasing to a maximum of $11,000 in the event of three or more violations. Under the new provisions, the penalty will range from $375 to $3,200 for a first offense, up to a maximum of $16,000 for multiple violations.
  • Form I-9 paperwork violations. The penalties for Form I-9 “paperwork violations,” including failure to properly complete the form or failure to retain it for the required period of time, will remain the same at $110 to $1,100 per violation. These penalties are unchanged because they were below the threshold for an inflation adjustment under the relevant law.
  • Unfair immigration-related employment practices. Under the current provisions, penalties for unfair immigration-related employment practices, such as discrimination against job applicants or employees based on nationality or citizenship status, range from $275 to $2,200 per act for a first offense, increasing to a maximum of $11,000 in the event of three or more violations. Under the new provisions, the penalty will range from $375 to $3,200 for a first offense, up to a maximum of $16,000 for multiple violations. The penalties for “document abuse” — the refusal to accept permissible documents presented by an employee in compliance with the Form I-9 requirements — will remain at the current amounts of $110 to $1,100 per violation.

Employers’ bottom line

The increase in civil penalties provides yet another reason for you to ensure you’re in compliance with employment-related immigration laws.