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My Immigration Court Hearing was Postponed due to the Coronavirus. What can I do to Prepare for my Next Court Date?

June 11, 2020
Jeffrey Cohn

All non-detained immigration court hearings are currently postponed through, and including, Friday, June 26, 2020. If your immigration court hearing was postponed, you should receive a new Notice of Hearing in the mail with the location, date, and time of your rescheduled hearing. Most immigration courts are currently open for filings and for detained hearings only.

Do I have any obligations or requirements now that my court hearing is postponed?

It is extremely important to keep your address up to date with immigration. The law says a foreign national must inform immigration of a change of address within five days of such change. A Form EOIR 33/IC is used to change an address with an immigration court, other than the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Keep your address up to date with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) so immigration has your current address on file and can send important information, such as the new Notice of Hearing for a rescheduled immigration court hearing. Go to https://www.justice.gov/eoir/form-eoir-33-eoir-immigration-court-listing to get the Form EOIR-33/IC corresponding to the hearing location currently handling your case. After filing your change of address form with EOIR, you must also serve the local DHS-ICE Office of the Chief Counsel.

How can I check for my rescheduled hearing date?

The uncertainty of when a postponed immigration court hearing will be rescheduled is an unsettling aspect of the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on immigration court hearings. Anyone can call 1-800-898-7180 for EOIR’s automated immigration court information system. Have your Alien Registration Number at hand – this is the eight or nine digit number beginning with an ‘A’ printed on all DHS and EOIR correspondence. Enter a ‘0’ before your Alien Registration Number if it consists of eight numbers only. The electronic phone system provides the following immigration court information in English and Spanish and can be accessed toll-free 24 hours a day, seven days a week:
•  Next hearing date, time, and location
•  Case processing information
•  Immigration judge decision outcome and date
•  BIA case appeal information, including appeal due date, brief due date,  decision outcome and date; and
•  Filing information

Another way to check for your rescheduled hearing date is to access the EOIR automated portal at https://portal.eoir.justice.gov/InfoSystem/Form?Language=EN. All you need to do is enter your Alien Registration Number, and you will be able to access all the information that is contained in the automated immigration court information (phone) system, without the need to dial through the prompts. You can also stay informed regarding non-detained hearings by checking for updates on EOIR’s Twitter at https://twitter.com/DOJ_EOIR?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw and EOIR’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/doj.eoir/.

Other than checking for my new court date, what else can I do to prepare?

• Stay out of trouble with the law – do not get arrested. This could lead to unwanted encounters with ICE and possible detention in immigration custody, which could cause your case to change from a non-detained hearing to a future detained hearing. Criminal convictions for certain activities could also preclude your eligibility for relief from removal in immigration court
• Keep compiling documentation, such as evidence of rehabilitation if you were previously convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), for example. Continue accumulating evidence to support a claim, such as medical records, police reports, news articles, affidavits from witnesses, and country conditions. If good moral character is at issue in your case, keep record of any positive community involvement, such as volunteer activities, charitable contributions, and church membership. File your taxes and keep the tax returns for your records. Make sure you do not owe any money to the Government. Renew your employment authorization document (EAD or “work permit”) if you are eligible to do so
• Stay up to date on policy changes and changes in the law, including important Supreme Court decisions. You can read about recent Supreme Court decisions at https://www.supremecourt.gov/. The Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision soon regarding the fate of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
• Reach out to your existing attorney to help you prepare for testimony at your individual hearing. Contact an attorney if you do not already have one, to help you file for relief from removal, represent you at your master calendar and/or individual hearing, or to represent you on an appeal before the BIA

Even if your immigration court hearing was postponed due to the coronavirus, you can still move things along. You can send documents to your attorney electronically, such as by email or by fax, to reduce the need to go outside and possibly jeopardize your health or safety. For court hearings coming up, you can submit applications and supporting documents in advance of the final hearing, and your attorney can file a motion to advance your hearing date, requesting that you be scheduled for an individual hearing at the earliest available date.

Contact an attorney at Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C. if you need legal representation for your immigration court hearing.

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