Jesse J. Bañuelos, a Los Angeles Immigration Attorney
MOTION TO REOPEN A DEPORTATION/REMOVAL IMMIGRATION COURT CASE
A motion to reopen a deportation/removal case seeks to reopen the case because the alien hopes that he can obtain a better outcome than what he got during the most recent hearing before the immigration court [deportation proceeedings are immigration court proceedings that began before April 1, 1997. Removal proceedings are immigration court proceedings that began on or after April 1, 1997]. A deportation/removal case may conclude with the granting of some kind of relief from deportation/removal for the alien, such as the granting of legal permanent resident status, cancellation of removal, suspension of deportation, dismissal or closure of the proceedings, etc., or with the issuance of an order of removal/deportation, an order of voluntary departure, etc.
CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH WOULD PROVIDE A BASIS FOR A MOTION TO REOPEN
If an immigration court issued an order of deportation/removal against an alien because he did not attend the immigration court hearing on his case, he may have grounds to have his case reopened if he not attend the hearing because:
1. he did not receive proper notice of the hearing;
2. of exceptional circumstances, such as his serious illness, or that of a close family member;
3. he was the victim of attorney/notario fraud/incompetence; or
4. he was in the custody of state/local/federal authorities on the date of the hearing.
If the alien attended all immigration court hearings, but the court, nevertheless, issued an order of deportation/removal against him, he may file a motion to reopen on any number of grounds, including:
1. since the issuance of the removal/deportation order, new evidence has become available which warrants a reopening of the case; or
2. since the issuance of the deportation/removal order, there has been a significant change in the law which gives the alien a right to apply for relief from deportation/removal that did not exist before the issuance of the deportation/removal order.
A MOTION MUST BE FILED WITHIN A CERTAIN PERIOD OF TIME
Motions to reopen a removal case must be filed no later than 90 days from the date of the alien applicant’s last immigration court hearing [NOTE: in a deportation case, the alien would have 180 days to file the motion]. However, there are some exceptions to these deadlines. For instance, if the alien did not attend a hearing because:
1. of exceptional circumstances, such as his serious illness, or that of a close family member, he would have 180 days to file the motion;
2. he was in local, state or federal custody, he could file his motion at any time;
3. he did not receive notice of the hearing, he could file his motion at any time; or
4. he was the victim of attorney or notario fraud or incompetence, the 90-day limit could be extended to a reasonable time after the alien’s discovery of the fraud or incompetence.
AN ALIEN IS PERMITTED TO FILE ONLY ONE MOTION TO REOPEN, PER CASE
In most cases, an alien is permitted to file only one motion to reopen, per case. Although there are very specific exceptions to this rule [NOTE: for instance, in deportation cases, the one-motion-to-reopen-per-case rule does not apply], it is extremely important that when a motion to reopen is filed, that it be well prepared because it could be the only one that the alien will be permitted to file. Furthermore, because the rules regarding these motions are very strict, a motion to reopen should be prepared only by an experienced immigration attorney, such as Mr. Bañuelos. Because he is hardworking and tenacious, Mr. Bañuelos has been successfully resolving difficult immigration problems, and has been winning difficult deportation and removal cases for over 20 years.