By Bruce E. Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

In the past few months, the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) has been increasing its Administrative Law Judges. As I previously reported, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is amending its regulations governing OCAHO to reflect the creation of the position of Chief Administrative Law Judge (CALJ).

The CALJ will report to the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (CAHO). As of August 2020, Acting CAHO is Elizabeth Vayo, who throughout her nine-year legal career has worked for OCAHO. Most recently, from 2015 to August 2020, she served as counsel to the CAHO. Ms. Varo replaces Robin Stutman.

The CALJ serves as an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and is the direct supervisor of the OCAHO ALJs and related ALJ support staff. The CALJ is Jean King, who was appointed in June 2019. Previously, CALJ King had worked at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) or Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) for 13 years.

In November 2020, then-Attorney General William P. Barr appointed Andrea R. Carroll-Tipton as an Administrative Law Judge for OCAHO. ALJ Carroll-Tipton is new to OCAHO as she most recently served as an attorney in the Office of General Counsel, Department of Veterans Affairs. From 2008 to 2019, she served as a judge advocate with the U.S. Air Force.

Additionally, in November 2020, then-Attorney General William P. Barr appointed John A. Henderson Jr. as an ALJ. ALJ Henderson is also new to OCAHO and the EOIR. From 2007 to 2020, he served as an administrative judge or trial attorney with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

The third ALJ is Carol A. Bell, who was appointed in June 2020. ALJ Bell was previously an assistant U.S. attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois from August 2008 to June 2020.

This is the most ALJs that OCAHO has ever had in its history. OCAHO appears to be ramping up for a vast increase in its caseload even though at present there does not appear to be a backlog of cases. In the past two years, OCAHO has only issued about five substantive decisions on I-9 penalties and approximately 10 decisions concerning discrimination, document abuse, or retaliation.

A second indication of an expected increase in the volume of OCAHO cases is the OCAHO Settlement Officer Program to mediate cases pending at OCAHO. See To this writer’s knowledge, no cases have been through mediation, but several are awaiting mediation.
If you want to know more information on issues related to OCAHO and employer immigration compliance, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at