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