The US departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Labor announced that as of Aug. 1, civil penalties for violators of several immigrant worker requirements are increasing significantly. The new fines are for violators of H-1B, H-2A and H-2B temporary visa programs, I-9 form misfiling, unlawful employment of undocumented immigrant workers, and other immigration-related employment practices that are deemed discriminatory.
Fines for multiple violations that occurred after November 2015 that result in injury or death could be as high as $108,745 per worker, said Roy Maurer, who contributes to SHRM. Attorney Mitch Wexler, a partner at Fragomen Worldwide advised that, “The fines in some categories have almost doubled. One reason is due to inflation and another is an indication of the government's efforts to vigorously enforce our immigration laws."
Employers are encouraged to check their recruitment practices and verify all immigrant and national worker forms have been filed correctly during the time span mentioned, in order to avoid penalties. Most of the affected employers have been notified as of June 1.
Immigration hiring laws are undergoing massive scrutiny in the wake of multiple immigration scandals, such as immigrant worker overstays and workers with expired visas living under the protection of the government with no occupational reason for being in the states. The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act gave employers a second-chance to clean up their hiring practices and provide the right documentation to avoid fines.
Wexler makes the point that companies of all sizes need to make sure they have policies and procedures in place to file I-9 forms at the onboarding phase, rather than face serious fines later. Proper training of all recruitment personnel can reduce the risk of violating present immigration employment laws.