Fines for I-9 and Other Immigration Violations Have Increased as of August 1, 2016

The U.S. Departments of Homeland Security (DHS), Labor (DOL) and Justice (DOJ) have increased the civil fines for employers that commit immigration-related offenses, such as unfair employment or discrimination practices, H-1B and H-2B program violations, and Form I-9 and E-VERIFY violations.  The new penalties, which went into effect on August 1, 2016, apply to violations that occurred after November 2, 2015. 

The largest increases in civil fines involve I-9 violations. The fines for I-9 paperwork violations (i.e., fines for mistakes or omissions on Form I-9) have increased by 96%, from $110-$1,100 per violation to $216-$2,156 per violation.  This increase is indicative of the government’s continued focus on demanding that employers comply with federal immigration laws, evidenced by the increased number of I-9 audits over the past five years. 

Accordingly, employers should ensure that they have an I-9 compliance policy in place and that they are regularly conducting self-audits of their I-9s.  In some circumstances, paperwork violations can be corrected once discovered during a self-audit.  Correcting Form I-9 prior to an audit demonstrates good faith and can help mitigate the severity of the I-9 violation fine.

Additional relevant fine increases include the following:


Penalty for violations before 11/2/15

Increased Penalty for violations after 11/2/15

Knowingly hiring or employing unauthorized aliens – first offense (per individual)

Min. $375

Max. $3,200

Min. $589

Max. $4,313

I-9 Paperwork Error

Min. $110

Max. $1,100

Min. $216

Max. $2,156

Unfair immigration-related employment practices, first order (per individual)

Min. $375

Max. $3,200

Min. $445

Max. $3,563

Unfair immigration-related employment practices, document abuse (per individual)

Min. $110

Max. $1,100

Min. $178

Max. $1,782

Willful H-1B violations pertaining to wages/working conditions, notification, labor condition application specificity, recruitment, or discrimination against an employee (per violation)

Max. $5,000

Max. $7,251

Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.