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Employers Risk Higher Penalties for Hiring Unauthorized Workers

The U.S. Department of Justice is increasing civil monetary penalties substantially for employers who knowingly employ an unauthorized worker and for certain other immigration-related violations, according to an interim final rule the Department has published. The rule will take effect on August 1, 2016, and will apply to violations occurring after November 2, 2016. The increases come in response to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which requires agencies to adjust penalties for inflation.

Under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA), it is unlawful for an employer to hire or continue to employ a person knowing that the person is not authorized to work in the United States. IRCA requires employers to verify employment eligibility of all employees by completing a Form I-9, and failure to comply with these rules subjects employers to substantial civil monetary penalties.

Under the interim final rule, the minimum penalty for a first offense of knowingly employing an unauthorized worker will increase from $375 to $539 per worker, and the maximum penalty will increase from $3,200 to $4,313 per worker. The largest increase raises the maximum civil penalty for multiple violations from $16,000 to $21,563 per worker. Paperwork violations can now be assessed a maximum penalty of $2,156 per relevant individual, up from $1,100. Finally, for unfair immigration-related employment practices, the maximum penalty increases from $3,200 to $3,563 per person discriminated against.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020

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Working in tandem with our labor and employment attorneys, our Immigration team provides comprehensive services to address clients’ needs quickly and effectively in both the compliance and immigration benefits areas. We provide innovative and cost-effective immigration guidance to employers, including identifying creative visa options and strategies for the global migration of critical staff and hiring of foreign workers.

Our attorneys have a particular appreciation for the urgency required in obtaining visas for needed international personnel...

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