Changing Immigration Court: Options After ICE Arrest (2024)

In the world of immigration court proceedings, individuals often face a common dilemma: when ICE agents arrest a relative or kin who has entered the United States without legal inspection, and serve them with an NTA scheduling a hearing at a distant court, what options exist for relocating the immigration court hearing? This paper examines the opportunities and formalities involved in moving the location of your immigration court hearing, ensuring that friends and family can be present during this critical phase.

Understanding the Notice to Appear (NTA)

ICE arrests individuals who are aliens without proper documents and mandates that they receive a Notice to Appear (NTA). These individuals must not share specific details, including the court date and location. Typically, the court location aligns with the place of arrest. Consequently, many undocumented immigrants find themselves in a predicament where they are the sole members of their families with established lives in another state, leaving them with limited options for visiting friends or family.

Locating the Immigration Court Assigned to the NTA

When reflecting on your NTA, you will note that it dictates the immigration court where you as a non-citizen will need to go. In general, the criminal court in the area where you were found deals with your case unless you were there without lawful permission. However, it’s important to note that the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) provides immigration courts, which operate in numerous locations throughout the United States, and venue changes may be possible for your immigration hearing.

Requesting a Change of Venue

It must however be noted that while asking for a change of venue is quite possible, this is not guaranteed in any way. This is an individual decision that depends on the immigration judge who, while making the decision, considers certain factors. Considerations may involve whether the case has previously undergone rescheduling and what legal options the non-citizen has to continue residing in the United States.

Steps to Request a Change of Venue

To initiate a request for a change of venue, you must provide specific details in your application:

Specify Hearing Details:

It is recommended that you present your request with details of the next hearing including date and time.

Respond to Allegations:

Respond to each charge listed in the Notice to Appear (NTA) and declare the country from which you will depart if your application is denied or if you decide not to appeal the decision. Take action to address the charges and specify your departure details.

Explain Relief Sought:

Explain the kind of temporary immigration relief you are asking the immigration judge to grant you.

Reason for Venue Change:

why will you need to have it at a different place? If your request is for a change of address relating to a recent change of address form do provide a copy of the change of address form, EOIR Form-33/IC.

Preparing the Request

An application for a change of venue constitutes an official legal pleading, and therefore, it must adhere to the guidelines outlined in the Immigration Court Practice Manual, along with other legal requirements. Hence, it’s advisable to seek guidance from a lawyer when filling out this request, as immigration law encompasses a wide scope, necessitating the expertise of an attorney to handle such matters effectively.

Seeking Legal Assistance

When in need of immigration services, it is difficult to maneuver through the immigration courts if one does not possess legal experience. To ensure you’re well-prepared for your hearing, consider these options:

Hire an Attorney: However, because the court hearing involves technical issues such as a change of venue, it is highly advisable to seek the services of an attorney to assist in the process and be by your side during the hearing of your case. They have all the information needed on the process and will ensure they take you through it right.

Nonprofit organizations abound, and most of them offer legal assistance in immigration-related cases at fixed or low fees. Some may even assist in locating a lawyer who is volunteering or a law firm that offers services for free. You may refer to the Immigration Court’s list of providers who have affixed their services at lower immigration legal service fees.

In conclusion, though it’s possible to change the venue of an immigration court hearing, there’s no guarantee, and the immigration judge ultimately makes the decision. To increase your chances of success, make sure you prepare your request well, follow court requirements, and think about getting legal assistance. By taking these steps, you can navigate the immigration court system more effectively and secure the support you need during this crucial process.

Changing Immigration Court: Options After ICE Arrest (2024)
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