USCIS recently announced a new look for the Employment Authorization Document as well as the N-560, Certificate of Citizenship. These new documents bear technology that will increase security and deter counterfeiting and tampering. The work permit will notably no longer have the initial letter "A" before the alien registration number. Employers who do hire foreign nationals need to make it their business to get familiar with the new look, as aliens with newly issued cards will be presenting documents that will appear different than what is currently out there. Employers, of course, need to be aware of their I-9 obligations as well as the general criminal and civil penalties for hiring someone who is not authorized to work. While the average small business may not run afoul of any criminal penalties, the civil sanctions are serious:
8 CFR § 274a.10(b)(1) A respondent found by the Service or an administrative law judge to have knowingly hired, or to have knowingly recruited or referred for a fee, an unauthorized alien for employment in the United States or to have knowingly continued to employ an unauthorized alien in the United States, shall be subject to the following order:
274a.10(b)(1)(i) To cease and desist from such behavior;
274a.10(b)(1)(ii) To pay a civil fine according to the following schedule:
274a.10(b)(1)(ii)(A) First offense--not less than $275 and not more than $2,200 for each unauthorized alien with respect to whom the offense occurred before March 27, 2008, and not less than $375 and not exceeding $3,200, for each unauthorized alien with respect to whom the offense occurred occurring on or after March 27, 2008.
The penalties grow increasingly stiff with each subsequent violation.