Department of Homeland Security Sharply Increases I-9 Penalties for 2023

Department of Homeland Security
February 13, 2023

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has increased fines for violations of employment eligibility verification requirements (Form I-9) and for hiring unauthorized workers. In a Federal Register notice published on January 13, 2023, the Department announced the new penalty amounts adjusted for inflation.

According to the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 2015, agencies must adjust their civil monetary penalties annually. This regular increase ensures continued effectiveness and deterrent capability. In addition, these new penalties will go into effect as of the publishing date. As such, assessments for penalties will consider any violations after November 2, 2015.

These penalties increase based on the rate of inflation and the exceptionally high rates of inflation in recent times. As such, the penalties have proven especially high. The penalty increases in 2022 and 2023 have been some of the sharpest hikes since the Inflation Adjustment Act took effect.

Here are some of the fines that have increased under the Final Rule published by the DHS. It includes the old and new penalties for offenses occurring after November 2, 2015.

  • Civil penalties for I-9 paperwork violations Previous Penalty – $252 to $2,507, Now- $272 to $2,701
  • Knowingly hiring or retaining an undocumented worker – 1st offense: Previous Penalty – $627 to $5,016, Now – $676 to $5,404
  • Knowingly hiring or retaining an undocumented worker – 2nd offense: Previous Penalty – $5,016 to $12,537, Now – $5,404 to $13,508
  • Knowingly hiring or retaining an undocumented worker – 3rd offense: Previous Penalty $7,523 to $25,076, Now – $8,106 to $27,018
  • Fraudulent Documentation (USC 1324c(a)((1)-(4)): Previous Penalty – $517 to $10,360, Now – $557 to $11,162
  • Fraudulent Documentation (USC 1324c(a)((5)-(6)): Previous Penalty – $438 to $8,736, Now – $472 to $9,413
  • Violation or Prohibition of indemnity bonds: Previous Penalty – $2,507, Now – $2,701

As always, in determining the precise penalties to be assessed for Form I-9 violations, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Service will consider factors including:

  • The size of the employer’s business;
  • The seriousness of the particular violation(s);
  • The good faith of the employer;
  • Involvement of unauthorized workers; and
  • Any history of previous violations.

However, given the serious nature of these violations and the penalties attached, employers must avoid incurring I-9 penalties in the first place. The best way to do this is through prioritizing compliance and incorporating an electronic I-9 management tool into the hiring process. This tool can provide hiring personnel with step-by-step guidance, ensuring uniform compliance. It also offers a suite of features, including secure storage and reminders when further action is required.

Learn more about automating your employment eligibility verification and ensuring compliance with I-9 Compliance.