Thousands of people appear for hearings in front of the Executive Office of Immigration Review daily. Many of those people drive long distances requiring them to wake up well before dawn to ensure they make it to their hearing. The importance of attending your hearing cannot be overstated, because if you miss your hearing you may be ordered removed “in absentia.” The term “in absentia” is a way of saying you failed to appear at the hearing, so the Immigration Judge can order your removal.
If you miss your hearing, depending on the reason why you missed it, you could have options to avoid your deportation. According to the Immigration Court Practice Manual, there is no appeal from a removal order issued in absentia. An appeal means that you are asking another court to determine if the decision to order your removal was right or wrong. Instead of appealing the decision the Immigration Judge made to order your removal in absentia, the practice manual states a party may file a motion to reopen to rescind an in absentia removal order. A motion to reopen is a formal way of asking an Immigration Judge to consider the reasons you failed to appear for court in the hopes that the Judge will “reopen” your removal proceedings, which means the proceedings will continue as they normally would even though you missed a court date.
In order for the judge to reopen removal proceedings, a person must show that their failure to appear was: (1) because of exceptional circumstances; (2) or because the alien did not receive proper notice; or (3) or because the alien was in federal or state custody at the time of the proceedings. The practice manual gives examples of exceptional circumstances such as battery or extreme cruelty to the alien or any child or parent of the alien, serious illness of the alien or severe illness or death of the spouse, child or parent of the alien. The standard for a motion to reopen is very high, and it is subject to time limitations, meaning you must file the motion to reopen within a certain amount of time after your failure to appear.
If you or a loved one failed to appear at an immigration proceeding, it is imperative that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible, so that we can determine the best option for how to proceed. It is crucial that you get a lawyer as quickly as possible to protect your rights if you miss a hearing. Please give Chhabra & Gibbs, P.A. Immigration Team, a call at 601-927-8430 or 601-948-8005 or by using our live chat, so that we can assist you.