Daughter was stopped crossing border in Texas -- must she attend Immigration Court there?

When and how to apply for a change of venue when noncitizen living in a different state.

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QUESTION

I'm a U.S. permanent resident, originally from Mexico, now living in Massachusetts. My daughter (who is 22 years old), recently decided she wanted to join me in the U.S., and attempted to cross the border without inspection. She was apprehended by U.S. immigration patrols, released from detention, and given a document called a Notice to Appear, with a court date in Texas. Unfortunately, she has no relatives or friends in Texas. Is there any way we can move the hearing to closer to where I live, so that she can stay with me and I can help her through this?

ANSWER

As you noticed, the Notice to Appear (NTA) specifically lists the court where the noncitizen who has been arrested must appear. Assigning the case to the court having jurisdiction over the location where an entrant was discovered to be in the U.S. without authorization is the usual procedure.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) does, however, have immigration courts throughout the United States. You can request a change of venue (court location) for your daughter if she wishes to attend court at a location other than where she is scheduled to appear.

The judge is not required to change the venue, but may do so as a matter of discretion after balancing the factors of the case. Factors considered include whether the case has been rescheduled in the past and whether the person has viable options to stay in the United States, among others.

Your request must state the date and time of the next scheduled hearing. Your daughter must respond to all of the allegations listed in the Notice to Appear and designate a country where she is willing to return to if her case is denied or if she does not contest it. She must also explain what type of relief she will seek from the immigration court. Finally, she must provide an explanation as to why she would prefer a different location. If the request to change venue is based on the fact that she has moved, you will also need to submit a copy of a change of address form, EOIR Form-33/IC, to the court system.

Such a request must be filed with the court where your daughter is currently scheduled. A motion is a legal document that must match various requirements set by the court and described in the Immigration Court Practice Manual.

It may be easiest to have an attorney prepare this for you. If you can not afford a private attorney, many reputable nonprofit organizations provide free or low-cost legal services. Some may even work with you to find a pro bono (volunteer) attorney at a law firm. Check the Immigration Court list of providers of low-cost immigration legal services.

by: Cheryl Geiser

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