• New Law Imposes Stricter Requirements and Penalties for Employers
  • August 18, 2015
  • Law Firm: Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen Loewy LLP - New York Office
  • A new law creates a more structured legal framework for employers hiring foreign nationals, with harsher penalties for noncompliance with the quota and reporting requirements. Additionally, the law creates an Immigration Court and gives control of the issuance of Temporary Work Permits to the Comptroller General of Immigration. Before a residence permit is granted, employers must prove that they and their foreign workers have complied with the new law, although it is unclear how this will be enforced. The new law is effective immediately.

    Key Changes Affecting Employers

    Employers who do not timely renew their foreign national quota or return monthly foreign worker reports to immigration authorities may be subject to a fine of NGN 3 million (approximately USD $15,000). The corporate representative responsible for complying with these requirements may face a fine of NGN 1 million (approximately USD $5,000), imprisonment up to one year, or both.

    Employers will likely be subject to bond payments in support of certain work or residence permit applicants, although the law does not fully explain this requirement.

    Imposition of Stricter Penalty Structure

    The law outlines a new penalty structure, including individual liability for company directors, managers or secretaries or other individuals acting in such a capacity who are neglectful of the rules outlined in the new law. If convicted of an offence, employers may face a fine of NGN 2 million (about USD $10,000) and the court may also issue an order to wind up the company. Additionally, employers may now be held liable for failing to renew work permits, abide by quotas, file monthly returns and obtain the proper work or residence permit.

    Prior to this change, employers were not subject to fines and imprisonment for noncompliance with immigration regulations.

    Key Changes Affecting Foreign Workers

    Foreign workers who seek to change their employment must ensure that the new employer obtains prior approval from the Comptroller General of Immigration. Those who do not obtain preapproval may face deportation.

    The law also imposes a fine and/or imprisonment on any person who alters or assists another in altering travel documents. This provision places a burden on the foreign worker to ensure that there are no errors in their work or residence permit.

    The law also provides for a fine of NGN 1 million (approximately USD $5,000), imprisonment up to one year, or both, for foreign workers who are found guilty of an offense without a specific punishment. The law does not specify whether the fines or penalty will be per infraction committed or in total.

    What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

    Employers hiring foreign nationals will see more structured regulations and should work with their administrative departments to ensure compliance with the quota and reporting requirements. Noncompliance could result in steep fines and individual liability on corporate representatives.