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The U.S. Department of Justice has announced that beginning August 1, 2016 they will increase the monetary penalties on employers for employing individuals without valid U.S. work authorization, violating the Form I-9 paperwork rules, and engaging in unfair immigration-related employment practices.
All employers face large potential consequences as a result of this new rule, as federal laws prohibit companies from unlawfully hiring U.S. individuals or foreign individuals without first verifying their identity and employment authorization. Employers are required to properly complete a Form I-9 for every individual hired, whether they are a U.S. citizen or not.
Under this new rule, the fines employers traditionally faced for employment violations of the Immigration Reform and Control Act will be increased anywhere from 35% to 96% depending on the type of violation. For example, simple Form I-9 paperwork violations will now be enhanced from a maximum of $1,100 to $2,156 per violation, and a minimum from $110 to $216. The minimum penalty for employing undocumented individuals will increase from $375 to $539, while the maximum will go from $3,200 to $4,313. Employers with multiple violations will face a new maximum penalty of $21,563 for unlawfully employing immigrants. For unfair immigration-related employment practices, a first fine could cost as much as $3,563 per person discriminated against.
These new penalties will take effect on August 1st and apply to all violations that took place after November 2, 2015.
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While some employers may have previously viewed their workforce violations as a tolerable risk involved in doing business, these new fines will in essence double the penalties for employment violations. Companies looking to avoid these increased penalties should, therefore, contact outside counsel for assistance in reviewing their Form I-9 files and on-boarding processes. Conducting a Form I-9 audit is critical to shedding light on employment eligibility verification issues and mitigating any potential violations before they become fines.