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Category Archives: FL Immigration Court

Is Administrative Closure the Same as Termination of Removal Proceedings?

For any applicants currently in Removal proceedings, they may have heard the above terms used interchangeably, but in fact they are two completely different forms of relief that an Immigration Judge(s) can grant. Termination of Removal Proceedings basically means that removal proceedings against an applicant are completed and no longer pending, i.e. open, against the applicant. This means that at least for the most current removal proceedings, the applicant was not ordered removed or deported from the U.S. The applicant’s removal proceedings are considered completed, and the applicant is no longer in removal proceedings.

Administrative closure, on the other hand, simply means that the applicant’s removal proceedings are being put on hold for the time being, and that they must be reopened in the future for the removal proceedings to be resolved. Through Administrative closure, the applicant’s case is temporarily taken off the Court’s calendar. The applicant still remains in removal proceedings.

In June and ongoing months in 2011, some Memorandums of law were released by Director J. Morton that set forth factors ICE should consider when determining if a case is eligible for prosecutorial discretion. If ICE agrees to apply prosecutorial discretion to a case, then that case will be administratively closed. In this way, that applicant will not be ordered removed and can also apply for an employment card while he or she is in the U.S.

New Notice to Appear Policy for Florida

As of May 16, 2011, USCIS local office in Tampa, Florida has instituted a new notice to appear policy for denials of I-751 cases. Once the I-751 case is denied, now USCIS will issue a notice to appear without waiting the required 30 day period within which applicants can file their motion for reconsideration.

A notice to appear is the charging document USCIS uses to place someone in removal proceedings. The notice to appear, also called NTA, should state all the allegations against the intending immigrant, and should also state a date or “soon to be announced” annotation for when and where the applicant must appear for immigration court. It is extremely important that the address for the applicant is correct on the Notice to Appear, and if it is not, then the applicant must take all precautions necessary to make sure the address gets corrected. Otherwise, applicants can fail to receive a hearing date and then be ordered deported in absentia. Once the case is filed with the immigration court, applicants can change their address with an immigration court by filing form EOIR-33/IC.

During the immigration court process, the applicant must explain to the Judge through filing certain application(s) for immigration relief as to why they should not be deported from the U.S.

This new policy of immediately issuing NTA’s upon denial has been confirmed as taking place by the USCIS office in Tampa, Florida. Although Jacksonville denies that they have accepted this procedure as their official policy, I know from a new client coming to my office that this procedure has taken place in the USCIS office in Jacksonville, FL, although certainly not consistently and only on a case by case basis.

This information is being provided because many applicants filing form I-751 believe that the process is simple, but unfortunately if the USCIS denies the case for any reason, this could now result in the applicants being placed in removal proceedings and possibly getting deported if the matter is not resolved favorably.

Immigration Case Sample: Removal Proceedings

I recently accompanied a client of mine to the Immigration Court in Orlando, FL where he had his final individual hearing. The specifics of his case are that he entered on a fiancé visa and then obtained his conditional resident card. However, before he obtained his permanent resident card, otherwise known as the 10-year green card, he became separated from his U.S. citizen wife. He unfortunately did not reveal this fact to the Immigration Officer that interviewed him and his wife. So when the couple appeared for an Interview at USCIS Immigration Office and were physically separated during their interview, they provided conflicting statements. This led the Immigration Officer to deny their case. The Officer denied the permanent resident petition, finding that the couple had engaged in marriage fraud.

The client then hired my office to represent him in removal proceedings. I did not represent him until he was already placed in removal proceedings. In addition to re-filing the petition form, I accompanied him to his final hearing where he presented evidence and testimony to the Judge to show that he in fact had entered the marriage with his now ex-wife in good faith and that there was no marriage fraud.

After I completed my questioning of my client about his dating and marriage history with his now ex-wife, the government attorney then spent over one hour cross-examining my client. Some unfortunate details were revealed, like my client had a child with another woman during his marriage to his U.S. citizen sponsor.

However, in the end, the Judge granted my client’s application for a waiver in good faith and now my client will become a permanent resident of the U.S. It bears noting that we were victorious in this case because I stressed to the Immigration Judge that the standard is not whether their marriage was perfect or whether my client was a perfect husband, but rather the standard was whether the marriage was entered into in good faith at the time of their engagement and their marriage. I was able to show that my client did not have any money at that time that he could have used to bribe the U.S. citizen, nor was there any other motivation for the U.S. citizen to marry him and sponsor him, except for the hope of building a life together. My client had also taken a trip outside Jacksonville, FL with his then wife and had other proof of their bona fide marriage.

Not all cases like the one described above will have the same result, obviously, but the above case details are being provided because I know my clients and readers are interested to know about recent real-life immigration cases and their results.

Orlando Immigration Court has a new address

The Executive Office for Immigration Review has just released a notice that the Immigration Court in Orlando, Florida is moving from their current downtown address to the following address:

Executive Office for Immigration Review
Office of the Clerk / Immigration Court
3535 Lawton Road, Suite 200
Orlando, Florida 32803

It is important to note that EOIR’s own press release contains the wrong zip code. We have checked with the Court and checked with hearing notices we have received for our current clients. The correct zip code is the one listed above, which again is 32803.
The Immigration Court is moving from their current address on North Hughey Avenue which is in downtown Orlando.

The Court is expected to be at their NEW location on November 18, 2010. The Court will be closed from November 12, 2010 until they re-open on November 18th.
If for an emergency you need to call the clerk at the immigration court, the office number is 407-648-6565. They are open from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm.

It is not yet clear what the new address for the government attorneys will be. Any filing that is made with the Court must include a certificate of service that states that a true and accurate copy of the foregoing documents was sent / mailed to the Office of Chief Counsel located at (their address). For this reason, we will locate the address and then place the information on this blog.