Picture of a happy family.On July 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a final administrative rule that will significantly expand the availability of provisional unlawful presence waivers (commonly known as I-601A waivers). The new rule goes into effect on August 29, 2016.

Foreign nationals who enter the United States illegally, are barred from becoming lawful permanent residents (“LPRs”) through the adjustment of status process. Instead, in order to become LPRs, they must leave the United States and apply for an immigrant visa at an American embassy or consulate.

However, by leaving the United States, these individuals become inadmissible to the United States based on the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (“IIRIRA”). Under IIRIRA, foreign nationals who voluntarily depart the United States after being unlawfully present for more than 180 days, are barred from re-entering the country for a period of either 3 or 10 years. (The time period is determined based on whether or not the foreign national was unlawfully present for more than one year.)

Effective August 1, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), significantly increased civil fines for employers who commit I-9 and other violations of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (“IRCA”). The increased fines are a direct result of the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (Sec. 701 of Public Law 114-74) (“the Inflation Adjustment Act”). The Inflation Adjustment Act, required all federal agencies to increase civil fine penalties to adjust for inflation.

Enacted on November 6, 1986, IRCA requires all employers to verify both the identity and employment eligibility of all employees. 8 U.S.C. § 274a.2 created Form I-9 as the way employers must document their compliance with IRCA. All employers are required to complete Form I-9 within three days of an employee’s first paid day of work.  In addition, employers are required to retain all Form I-9s for a period of three years after an employee is hired, or for one year after the employee is no longer employed (whichever is longer). Penalties for failing to comply with IRCA and 8 U.S.C. § 274.a.2 can range from civil fines, disqualification from government contracts, and criminal penalties.

Effective August 1, 2016, DHS increased civil fines for IRCA violations occurring after November 2, 2015. A breakdown of the new fines is set forth below: