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How you can proactively use the government’s matrix to mitigate your I-9 violations?

by | Jan 20, 2023 | Compliance and Enforcement, I-9 and E-Verify, News

Immigration compliance is complicated and time-consuming.

Even if you have an electronic I-9 system that makes your job “easy and provides friendly” reminders, you need to understand the compliance requirements, trends, and how fines are applied and mitigated.

During our New Form I-9 Workshops, we discuss how hefty I-9 base fines are assessed through set schedules and how after that ICE uses an “Enhancement Matrix” to increase the base fine by as much as 25% using five statutory factors.

Below is the Enhancement Matrix outlining the five statutory factors used to enhance or mitigate I-9 fines by up to 25%.

Factor Aggravating Mitigating Neutral
Business size + 5% – 5% +/- 0%
Good faith + 5% – 5% +/- 0%
Seriousness + 5% – 5% +/- 0%
Unauthorized aliens + 5% – 5% +/- 0%
History + 5% – 5% +/- 0%
Cumulative adjustment + 25% – 25% +/- 0%


This Matrix is an opportunity for you to significantly reduce potential fines by proactively training, engaging in internal audits and adopting a culture of full compliance. 

Want is an example of how the base fines are imposed? 

Let’s say your company produced 100 I-9 forms to ICE for inspection. 

ICE determined that 60 of the forms had violations (60% violation rate).

An error rate of 50% or more is assigned the maximum base penalty of $2,507 per I-9 containing one or more errors.

How are base fines enhanced?

The base fine in this example for 100 I-9s with 60% errors is 60 x $2,507 = $150,420.

ICE enhances the base fine using the five statutory factors in the matrix.

The total fine could be somewhere between $112,815 (base fine -25%) and $188,025 (base fine +25%).   

How to use the statutory factors to mitigate your fines? 

Proactive training and counsel-guided internal audits are key.  Counsel-guided work in this area provides you with attorney-client privilege. 

You should work with counsel to establish the basis for at least three of the statutory mitigating factors:  1) Good Faith; 2) Seriousness of Violations; and 3) Unauthorized Workers. 

Taking these proactive steps is necessary to tip the balance in your favor.  To continue to help you, be on the lookout for the dates for our I-9 workshops in February.   

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