Steven A. Goldstein
Removal proceedings are accomplished through a series of court hearings in front of an Immigration Judge. An individual whom the government is attempting to deport from the United States generally has the right to a hearing to present evidence and try to convince the Immigration Judge to allow him or her to remain legally in the United States and avoid deportation to their native country.
If; however, you do not appear when scheduled for any of your removal hearings, the Immigration Judge can order you removed or deported without your presence. This is known as being removed, in absentia.
If you fail to appear at the removal hearing, you’ll be ineligible for most discretionary forms of relief from removal for 10 years. Such relief includes, among other things, adjustment of status and political asylum.
A removal order entered in absentia can be rescinded and your case reopened if you file a motion to reopen that shows that:
· You did not receive proper notice of the hearing, or
· There were exceptional circumstances that kept you from appearing at the hearing, such as a serious illness suffered by you, or your spouse or your child
This motion can be filed at any time if your motion is based on the failure to receive the notice of hearing or within 180 days from the order of removal if the motion is based upon exceptional circumstances.
The filing of a motion claiming you did not receive proper notice automatically stops your removal or deportation until the Immigration Judge makes a decision on the motion.
If you are the subject of an order of removal or deportation that was entered against you in absentia, it is important that you retain competent legal counsel to file a motion on your behalf.