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About penalties for illegal employment

US Immigration Question:

I heard that INS has become tough on illegal employment. What kind of punishment would I be subject to if I was caught employing illegal aliens? Also, please tell me about the I-9 form.


If the INS finds out that you are employing aliens not authorized to work by the INS, you could be subject to punishment under both criminal and civil laws. [The same result could happen if you do not discharge an employee after his/her work authorization expires]. Under the civil laws, you could be fined from $250 up to $2,000 for hiring an illegal alien worker. Moreover, if you failed to fill out INS Form I-9 correctly, you could be fined between $100 and $1,000 per violation. Under the criminal laws, the penalty includes both fines and incarceration. However, it only applies to those who regularly employ illegal aliens.

If you are an employer, do the following before an US Immigration officer makes a surprise investigation at your workplace:

(1) call the INS at 1-800-755-0777 to obtain a handbook for employers (INS Form 274),

(2) make a list of employees hired after November 6, 1986. Make sure you list the employee's name, the date he/she was hired, and the date he/she left, (3) if you do not have I-9 forms for your employees already, fill out the form according to the date it is made. Do not backdate,

(4) Form I-9 is supposed to be renewed each time there is a change. Regarding aliens whose authorized employment period is limited, mark your calender so you can check to see if their work authorization has been extended. The Human Resources Department or officer in charge of checking employment authorization should send such aliens a private and confidential memo asking the alien if work authorization has been extended [ see sample ]. Also, you may want to consider sponsoring an alien for a working visa or a green card.

If INS officers ever come to your place, do not try to prevent their investigation. Any conduct such as telling the employees to hide or escape, guiding them to a car, hiding them in a closet, stairs, or behind a panel, practicing how to escape from INS if they investigate your worksite, and so forth, is a violation of the criminal codes.

Aliens working without authorization from the INS and illegally present aliens are subject to deportation. Aliens working without INS's authorization include people who start working before obtaining practical training cards.