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Immigration Court Update: Standard Filing Deadlines Returned to 15 days

December 21, 2021
Aaron Lawee

The Biden administration made an important change to the immigration court process by returning the standard filing deadline to 15 days before a final hearing. This deadline refers to the number of days in advance of a hearing that a person in removal or deportation proceedings must submit their supporting evidence. The Trump administration had changed this deadline to 30 days, which reduced the amount of time that immigrants had to submit their documents to the immigration court; the Biden administration has simply returned the deadline to that which had existed for years.

Brief Background of the Immigration Court System:

The Immigration Court system is known as the Executive Office for Immigration Review, or EOIR. When someone is placed in removal or deportation proceedings (called “the Respondent”), they have an opportunity to submit applications to the immigration judge, who may be able to grant the Respondent a green card, asylum, or other status within the United States, or may order them to leave the United States. After the Respondent submits the application and the filing fee (if necessary), the judge will eventually schedule a final hearing. At that hearing, the Respondent will be allowed to testify and present any other witnesses to support their application.

Filing Deadline and Supporting Documents:

In addition to testimony, most Respondents should submit evidence to support their application. This evidence could include medical records, proof of payment of taxes, proof of family ties to the United States, proof of conditions in the home country, statements written by experts, etc. The attorney will also submit something called a “prehearing statement,” which is the argument for why the judge should grant the application. This evidence generally must be submitted in advance of the hearing, to allow the immigration judge to review everything before the hearing starts. For many years, the standard deadline was that evidence should be submitted 15 days before the hearing, although judges had the authority to set other deadlines if they chose. Under the Trump administration, this deadline changed to 30 days in advance of the hearing. This change gave Respondents and their attorneys less time to prepare and submit documents, especially for hearings that were scheduled with little notice. Fortunately, the Biden administration has returned to the standard 15-day deadline, which has increased the chances that a Respondent will be given a fair trial. Please note that this deadline does not necessarily apply to detained cases, which often move much faster than non-detained cases.

Conclusion:

It is always important to stay abreast of any changes to the immigration process. Changes may occur with little notice, whether as a result of elections, COVID-19, or any number of other factors. Our experienced attorneys at Minsky McCormick & Hallagan are constantly monitoring and notifying our clients of any changes that could impact their cases. If you have any questions about your removal or deportation case, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (312) 427-6163 or www.mmhpc.com.

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