The Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security have announced new rules increasing civil penalties and imposing additional requirements on employers in an effort to reduce the hiring of illegal aliens. The new rules will be published in the Federal Register this week and will be effective on March 27, 2008.

Under the new rules, civil penalties for Immigration and Nationality Act violations will increase an average of 25 percent. The minimum penalty for knowing employment of an illegal alien will go up from $275 to $375. The maximum civil penalty for multiple violations will rise from $11,000 to $16,000. Employers are subject to monetary penalties on a per-alien basis. Employers may be fined for, among other things, knowing employment of unauthorized aliens, failing to comply with requirements relating to employment eligibility verification forms, wrongfully discriminating against job applicants or employees on the basis of nationality or citizenship, and engaging in immigration-related document fraud.

In addition, a new rule will be introduced requiring federal contractors to ensure the documented status of employees through the government's E-Verify system. An Internet-based system, E-Verify compares the information provided on I-9 forms with records at the Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security.

The Department of Homeland Security has also announced plans to publish a new "no-match" rule in the near future. The Social Security Administration currently sends "no-match" letters to employers on an annual basis, identifying employees whose Social Security numbers do not match government records. The new rule is expected to clarify what action is expected by employers who receive such letters.