OCAHO Reduces I-9 Fine from $90K to $25K


The Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) has jurisdiction to review penalties imposed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for I-9 compliance violations. In calculating the amount of the penalty, OCAHO is not bound by ICE’s methodology. 

In the matter of USA v. Century Hotels, Immigration and Customs Enforcement filed a four-count complaint alleging that the employer engaged in ninety-one violations. The total penalty sought was $89,806.75. Under Count IV, ICE alleged that the company had failed to prepare or present a Form I-9 for fifty-one individuals. Under Counts I, II and III, ICE alleged that the Forms I-9 presented by the company for a total of forty individuals were not properly completed. ICE also alleged that the individuals in Count III were unauthorized for employment.

Considering the record as a whole and the statutory factors in particular, OCAHO reduced the fine to $500 per Form I-9 for nineteen violations relating to the failure to prepare a Form I-9 in Count IV (the rest of the violations in Count IV were dismissed), totaling $9,500, and $400 per Form I-9 for forty violations in Counts I, II, and III, totaling $16,000. The total penalty was thus reduced to $25,500.

It is important to have an established procedure for handling government audits of your I-9 Forms and to contact experienced immigration counsel even before becoming the subject of an audit.


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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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