On February 22, 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the imposition of higher civil fines against employers who violate federal immigration laws. Under the new rule which will become effective on March 27, 2008, civil fines will increase by as much as $5,000. The increase in fee was prompted by an adjustment for inflation. The penalties were last adjusted in 1999. Consequently, the average adjustment to the fines is approximately 25 percent. The adjusted civil monetary penalties were calculated according to the specific formula laid out by law, and will be effective for violations occurring on or after the effective date of these rules. Under the rule, the minimum penalty for knowing employment of an unauthorized alien increases by $100, from $275 to $375. Some of the higher civil penalties are increased by $1,000; for example, the maximum penalty for a first violation increases from $2,200 to $3,200. The biggest increase under the rule raises the maximum civil penalty for multiple violations from the current $11,000 to $16,000. These penalties are assessed on a per-alien basis; thus, if an employer knowingly employed, or continued to employ, five unauthorized aliens, that could result in five fines.

Additional information about the DOJ penalties will be contained in our firm's future Immigration Updates when it becomes available.