Immigration Blog: Lessons from ICE's I-9 Audits in 2013


By: Kelly Eisenlohr-Moul
Mandatory E-Verify usage in Georgia just entered its sixth month, and my office is receiving a large number of inquiries regarding compliance issues.
In order to assist with your 2014 compliance plans, I am offering a few observations on Form I-9 penalty trends in 2013.  These are taken from the Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) fines leveled against employers in 2013:

  • High risk industries: hospitality, staffing, retail/distribution, and construction services received the largest number of audits.  If you belong to these sectors, exercise special caution!
  • Fight back!  Employers who appealed ICE’s Notices of Intent to Fine to the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) saw an average fine reduction of 46.5%
  • Winning arguments: OCAHO based most of its fine reductions on the poor financial conditions and small size of the employers appealing their fines
  • Losing arguments: employers arguing “lack of knowledge” and attempting to prove the Form I-9 violations were “technical” instead of “substantive” were nearly uniformly shot down by OCAHO

Of course, your best course of action is to prevent ICE from knocking on your door in the first place.  Read my thoughts on preventative measures here.