Employer Sanctions for Hiring Undocumented Workers

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What Are Employer Sanctions?

Employer sanctions are legal penalties that are imposed on employees who violate federal or state laws. For instance, the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 imposes sanctions on employers who hire or recruit aliens who are unauthorized for work in the U.S.

In an immigration context, the main concern with employment is ensuring that the company is not hiring undocumented immigrants who are in the country illegally and are not authorized to work. This is generally kept in check by following employment eligibility verification procedures set forth by immigration authorities.

An employer also has to be very careful when sponsoring or petitioning a foreign national to come to the U.S. to work for their company. They may need to complete an extensive alien labor certification process if the person is coming over on a work permit visa. During this process, the employer can sometimes encounter issues like immigration fraud or visa fraud. Some employers have faced consequences for abusing the petitioning process.

What Are Some Consequences of Hiring Undocumented Workers?

Direct consequences of hiring undocumented workers may include fines, citations and in some cases, criminal charges. This can be problematic for the employer and for the company as a whole.

In addition, some indirect consequences of hiring undocumented workers can include:

How Can a Business Owner Protect against Liability?

Business owners can protect themselves from immigration violations by following requirements under federal immigration law. They can use new technology such as the E-Verify system, which allows the employee to check a worker’s background and work authorization through computer databases. Also, the employer needs to ensure that documents such as a form I-9 are completed and submitted properly.

Employers may be shielded from liability by making a good faith effort to comply with hiring requirements. However, if the employer knowingly omits information or makes a representation to immigration authorities, they might be held liable for a violation.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Hiring Laws?

Hiring laws can sometimes be very complex, especially when they involve immigration law concepts. You may wish to hire a lawyer if you are experiencing any difficulties or if you have any concerns regarding undocumented workers. Your attorney can help review your policies and practices to ensure that you’re conforming to the law.

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Last Modified: 03-31-2014 04:03 PM PDT

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