What to know about I-9 changes

  • Jan 23 2017

If you are in the process of hiring, it is critical to ensure that your future employees are eligible to work. The Federal government requires that all employees be certified by a new employer, and even a simple mistake on the I-9 of a natural born citizen can cause an employer to incur hundreds of dollars in fines. The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor are taking an even stronger stance against companies who hire employees who are not authorized to work, and many of the fines associated with an incomplete or improperly filled out I-9 are increasing significantly as a result starting the first of August, 2016.

Starting in August the minimum fine for mistakes or omissions on an I-9 form is nearly doubling. The minimum fine is going from $110 to $216 for each incorrect form found to be in violation. If it is found that the I-9 in question is for an undocumented worker, there can also be an additional fee of $539 per violation. These fines may not seem very high, but since it is per violation, it can quickly add up to thousands of dollars if there is a pattern of incorrect or missing I-9s.

The federal government is also strengthening the fines relating to discrimination and employer misconduct. Starting in August, a company can be fined a minimum of $445 dollars for discriminating against an immigrant worker, and penalties for violating the terms of an H-2A contract are increasing to a minimum of $1,625 per violation. A company that improperly lays off or rejects a US worker to hire an H-2A worker can be fined a maximum of $16,312 per violation, which is an increase of over a thousand dollars. Employers are also required to maintain healthy and safe living and working environments, as fines for a lack of care which leads to death or injury of an H-2A worker can reach well over $50,000.

Finally, the fees for not cooperating with a Department of Labor investigation will be going up almost ten percent. Clearly, the fines associated with non-compliance can compound quickly, and the last thing any employer wants is to be found in violation of immigration and labor laws. With these changes going into effect soon, now is a good time to review your companies I-9 and hiring practices to ensure that you are in compliance with all current Federal and State laws. If this seems a daunting task, consider consulting with a licensed immigration attorney who is familiar with the current laws and how to best ensure your business practices do not put you at risk.

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