Original document prepared by former Worldwide ERC® General Counsel, Richard H. Mansfield III
Mansfield & Mansfield
Updated by Worldwide ERC® Government Affairs Adviser, Tristan North
Current as of January, 2017
Fines for employment eligibility violations (I-9 violations) were raised substantially by USCIS on March 27, 2008. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) makes it unlawful for an employer to knowingly hire or continue to employ an alien not authorized to be employed in the United States. Under IRCA, employers must comply with the requirements of verifying employment eligibility of all employees they hire by completing a Form I-9. The "civil monetary penalties" which is levied against employers who violate these rules is set to increase by 25% effective March 27, 2008. The increase was set forth in a new rule which according to the U.S. Department of Justice:
“Under the new rule and applicable law, civil penalties for violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act are adjusted for inflation. Because these penalties were last adjusted in 1999, the average adjustment is approximately 25 percent. Under the specific rounding mechanism of the law, the minimum penalty for knowing employment of an unauthorized alien increases by $100, from $275 to $375. Some of the higher civil penalties are increased by $1,000; for example, the maximum penalty for a first violation increases from $2,200 to $3,200. The biggest increase under the rounding mechanism raises the maximum civil penalty for multiple violations from the current $11,000 to $16,000. These penalties are assessed on a per-alien basis; thus, if an employer knowingly employed, or continued to employ, five unauthorized aliens, that could result in five fines."
The increase in penalties has been accompanied by an increase in I-9 audits. The rule does not change the fact that for each alleged violation, the employer has the right to a hearing before an administrative law judge in the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
A list of the current fines and penalties, including both civil and criminal levies, can be found at http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.eb1d4c2a3e5b9ac89243c6a7543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=92082d73a2d38210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=92082d73a2d38210VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD .