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Immigration Violation Penalties Hiked

To keep pace with inflation, the U.S. government substantially increased monetary penalties for knowingly employing persons not authorized to be employed in the United States and for discriminating against immigrant workers, according to a June 30 announcement by the departments of Homeland Security, Justice and Labor.

 The increased penalties were announced for unlawful employment of immigrant workers; violations related to the use of Forms I-9; immigration-related discriminatory employment practices; and violations of requirements related to the H-2A and H-2B temporary non-immigrant visa foreign worker programs.

 The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act, which became law in Nov. 2015, requires federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties with an initial catch-up adjustment through an interim final rulemaking by July 1, with the penalty levels to have taken effect by Aug 1.

 The Act also requires federal agencies to further adjust the penalties annually for inflation. Starting in January, federal agencies must publish in the Federal Register annual inflation adjustments for civil penalties and continue to do so by Jan. 15 of each year.

 The new minimum penalty imposed by the Justice Department for the unlawful employment of immigrant workers rose from $375 to $539, while the maximum fine increased from $3,200 to $4,313. Violators facing multiple charges now face a maximum penalty of $21,563.

 The new rules raised fines for Form I-9 paperwork violations from a maximum of $1,100 to $2,156. The minimum penalty per violation rose from $110 to $216.

 The new top penalty for immigration-related employment discrimination increased to $3,563 per instance, up from $3,200. The minimum penalty increased from $375 to $445.

 H-2A program users will now be assessed a $1,631 penalty for each violation of an H-2A worker's contract or of the program's statutory or regulatory requirements. Penalties for willful violations of the worker's contract or the H-2A program's statutory or regulatory requirements are now much as $5,491 per violation.

 For housing or transportation violations that lead to the death or serious injury of any H-2A worker, an employer will be fined up to $54,373 per worker. Willful or repeated violations that result in serious injury or death can bring a penalty of up to $108,745 per worker.

 Failure to cooperate in an investigation can result in a penalty of up to $5,491 per violation. An employer who lays off, displaces or improperly declines to employ a U.S. worker in favor of an H-2A worker faces a maximum penalty of $16,312 per violation per worker.