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Employer Sanctions and Audits


Boston Lawyers Experienced in Assisting Corporate Clients with Immigration Matters

At Maiona Ward, our business immigration attorneys can assist employers throughout the Boston region in their efforts to train human resources departments and staff on best practices when it comes to record-keeping (Form I-9, Labor Condition Application, etc.), hiring, and other laws pertaining to hiring foreign nationals. We have helped a number of employers understand the protocols that should be in place when it comes to best hiring practices. Compliance with immigration laws is a serious matter that requires consideration to avoid the possibility of employer sanctions or even criminal repercussions. We have successfully assisted corporate clients with Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) I-9 investigations, Notice of Fine and subsequent hearings before the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) in Washington, DC reducing the assessed fines by more than 50%. We have also assisted corporate clients with Department of Labor Wage and Hour investigations and hearings due to employer violations of the labor conditions application attestations.

Risks of Employer Sanctions

The employer sanctions clause of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 forbids employers from hiring, recruiting, or referring foreign nationals known to be unauthorized to work in the United States for a fee. Individuals and businesses that violate this law are subject to civil fines as well as criminal penalties if there is an ongoing practice of violations.

Under IRCA, there are two main types of violations: record-keeping violations and hiring unauthorized workers. Record-keeping violations refer to an employer’s failure to observe record-keeping rules that apply to the employment of all persons, including U.S. citizens. Employers must document the employment eligibility status of each potential worker hired, recruited, or referred for a fee. This means both the employer and employee must properly fill out USCIS Form I-9 under the penalty of perjury. Failing to complete and retain these forms for the designated time can result in penalties for each record-keeping violation. IRCA’s record-keeping procedure creates a record for government investigators as well as giving employers a defense against potential charges.

Hiring unauthorized workers refers to hiring individuals who are not legally permitted to work in the United States. Under IRCA’s requirements, an employer must not knowingly hire or continue to employ any person not authorized to work in the U.S. An employer also must verify the identity and employment eligibility of every new employee, whether the person is a U.S. or foreign citizen.

“Knowingly” includes both actual knowledge and constructive knowledge, which means that a violation can be considered knowing if a reasonable and prudent employer should have been on notice that the worker was not eligible to work in the United States. Put another way, knowledge can be inferred through notice of certain facts and circumstances. As with record-keeping violations, an employer can be fined for every unauthorized worker who is hired.

IRCA violations are generally examined and enforced by the United Stated Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). ICE investigations are usually prompted by audits, random tips from workers or other, or referrals from government agencies.

Diligent Business Immigration Attorneys in Boston and Beyond

Employers must be vigilant in making sure that they are in compliance with immigration laws when they are hiring employees. If you are dealing with this type of issue in Boston or the surrounding area, the green card lawyers at Maiona Ward can help you handle your case. We understand the complexities and nuances of this area of the law, and we have helped countless businesses understand their legal rights and options. We proudly represent clients in Rhode Island and Providence as well as in cities throughout Massachusetts. To learn more, call us at 617-695-2220 or contact us online.

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