CASE: Motion to Reopen
LOCATION: Client: Houston, TX / EOIR: Cleveland, OH
Our client came to the United States from Cameroon in 2000. He entered legally on an F-1 visa.
In 2002, he filed for asylum with the USCIS. He was interviewed at the CIS office, but his asylum application was referred to the Immigration Court in New Orleans. After his first master calendar hearing, he requested for a change of venue to Hartford, CT.
In 2004, our client married his U.S. citizen wife and she filed an I-130 on behalf of our client. Our client filed the I-485 adjustment of status application simultaneously with the I-130 petition even though he was in removal proceedings. He had no legal representation at that time.
However, with the help of the Immigration Judge and DHS counsel, he served copies of the I-130 and I-485 application and informed the court that he filed the adjustment of status application. When he served the copies of his I-130/I-485 application, the DHS attorney told our client that she will try to re-route the I-485 application he filed to the CIS to the court. Our client assumed that given that he had been in clear communication with the Court and the DHS attorney, that everything will be fine with his case and both files will be merged.
Later in August 2004, our client moved to Cleveland, Ohio due to his new employment and his case venue was changed from Hartford, CT to Cleveland, OH as well. He attended his master calendar hearings in Cleveland, and in December 2005, our client and his wife attended their green card interview at the USCIS Cleveland Field office. After the interview, our client eventually got his conditional green card in the mail and he was under the assumption that if he was given a green card, then he must have done everything right and that the removal case had been dropped.
While he resided in the Cleveland area, he moved to different addresses and he had always promptly notified both Immigration Court and the USCIS by filing change of address forms. In April 2006, he went to his another master calendar hearing which he got in his new address. However, our client was told to go home and that he will get a letter in the mail with a re-scheduled master hearing date. He never received anything else from Court since then.
As mentioned above, our client got his green card and he filed an I-751 application two years later to remove conditions on the green card. He also got this. He had foreign trips and one of his entries, the issue of his final order came up but he eventually was let go and his green card was even given back to him.
Later, he filed an N-400 naturalization application and during his N-400 interview the final order of removal in absentia which was issued in November 2006 was brought up again. He was stunned and contacted a local immigration attorney in Houston, Texas where he currently resides. However, his attorney never filed the Motion to the court.
Our client contacted our office in late April 2013 and sought legal assistance. We advised him that we can file a Motion to Reopen in absentia order of removal.
To rescind the final order, he has to get his case reopened. This is done through a Motion to Reopen filed with the Immigration Judge who gave the final order. Based on this Motion to Reopen, the Immigration Judge can rescind the in absentia order of removal if you are able to show that you did not receive proper notice of the hearing. If the Notice to Appear or hearing notice was sent to the wrong address for example, and not the last address you provided to the immigration service, then there’s a good basis for a Motion to Reopen.
On May 9, 2013, our office filed a Motion to Reopen with the Cleveland Immigration Court. Documentation of his address at the date of the final order, a detailed affidavit regarding his addresses and his circumstances around the final order date, copies of his green card and immigration related documentation, documentation of the last address he provided to the immigration service and to the Immigration Court prior to the final order date, and other supporting documents were submitted (14 exhibits).
On June 19, 2013, the Cleveland Immigration Court granted our motion and reopened our client’s case. Our client now does not have the final order of removal and may seek to terminate removal proceedings.
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