Immigration related penalties for employers more or less doubled, as of August 1st. The adjustments are for inflation, under the Federal Civil Monetary Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as per the Federal Register Notice published on June 30, 2016.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 establishes the requirement that employers must confirm work authorization for new employees. This process is conducted by using the I-9 form, and maintaining appropriate records. Some employers also agree to participate in E-Verify, a separate electronic system for validating work authorization.
The government has many tools and methods for enforcing U.S. immigration law with regard to employers. In recent years, the government has escalated the use of civil fines for I-9 errors and omissions. Penalties for paperwork violations can rack up quickly.
First order penalties have risen to a minimum of $539 and a maximum of $4313, for each unauthorized alien. A second order penalty is now a minimum of $4,313, and a maximum of $10,781, per each. The minimum paperwork violation has risen from $110 to $216, per error on the I-9 form. There can be criminal exposure for HR personnel in some cases.
Enforcement is still sketchy for employers who are not in voluntary compliance programs, such as E-Verify. The government acts on tips and other information. It is not hard at all for an employer to have many violations in their I-9 files. One quick check of the forms is to see how many are missing the alien’s name in the first box on page 2. Each omission now carries a $216 minimum fine as a paperwork violation.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement initiates enforcement actions. If an employer is served with a “Notice of Inspection,” it will usually be best to immediately seek expert assistance.
Before that, though, one good business practice is to conduct self-audits of I-9 records. Another is to have designated personnel take voluntary webinars, so they’re more educated as to the process. There are other good practices to maintain compliance. We can help.