Can we change the location of a Master Calendar hearing?

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Question:

My brother-in-law was recently caught at the border when he was attempting to enter the United States. An Immigration Judge gave him a bond, which we paid, and now he’s living with us in Pennsylvania. However, he’s still scheduled for a Master Calendar Hearing in Texas next month. Is there any way to change his hearing to closer to where we’re living?

Answer:

Yes, there is a way to request a change of Master Calendar hearing location. Now that your brother-in-law has moved to Pennsylvania, he should file a Change of Address form with the Immigration Court (using Form EOIR 33) and also file a Motion for Change of Venue. No form is available for this motion – it needs to be written up as a brief, in compliance with the court’s requirements – so it’s best to get an attorney’s help with this.

The Motion needs to be filed at least 15 days before the scheduled hearing. In the Motion, your brother-in-law should ask the Judge to change jurisdiction to Philadelphia now that he has been released from detention and has relocated. He’ll need to submit proof of where he’s living to show that he’s no longer in Texas.

Typically, in a Motion for Change of Venue, the person also has to plead to the Notice to Appear. The Notice to Appear should have been given to your brother-in-law in Texas. It lists charges against him. That means he’ll need to tell the judge whether or not those charges are correct and, to the extent possible, let the judge know what his defense in removal proceedings will be. For a discussion of possible defenses, see “Possible Defenses to Deportation of an Undocumented Alien.”

The important thing to remember is that unless the Immigration Judge changes venue prior to the scheduled hearing, your relative must appear for the Master Calendar Hearing in Texas or he’ll be ordered removed for failing to appear. Good luck!

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