New Standards For Continuance Requests In Immigration Court
A continuance in Immigration court can be a necessity: you might need to ask the Immigration judge to postpone your hearing for a later date because you submitted a petition/application for USCIS and its outcome will determine your case; or because you need more time to find an attorney; or because you are waiting for important evidence, etc.
In the past, the continuances were freely granted by the Immigration judges: in most cases, no party would be prejudiced by the delay and a later date can really help a respondent in the removal proceedings to prove eligibility for the relief. Realizing that continuances are helping the immigrants, Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided to change the picture making it harder if not impossible for the immigrants to defend themselves in the Immigration courts.
On August 16, 2018, Att. Gen. issued a Matter of L-A-B-R- et al., 27 I&N Dec. 405 (A.G. 2018). In this decision, he outlined under what circumstances, an Immigration judge can grant a continuance. The decision states that a motion for continuance can be granted only for a “good cause shown.” It means that a respondent has to prepare such a motion very well, documenting the reason and attaching supporting documents. Specifically, the decision states that
When a respondent requests a continuance to pursue collateral relief, the immigration judge must consider primarily the likelihood that the collateral relief will be granted and will materially affect the outcome of the removal proceedings. The immigration judge should also consider relevant secondary factors, which may include the respondent’s diligence in seeking collateral relief, DHS’s position on the motion for continuance, concerns of administrative efficiency, the length of the continuance requested, the number of hearings held and continuances granted previously, and the timing of the continuance motion.
It means that if, for example, a person has applied for asylum and his case is about to go for an Individual hearing, but a year ago he became a victim of a crime and just realized he can file for a U visa, an Immigration judge may deny him such an opportunity and order him removed prior to the U visa application is decided.
It is obvious from the recent Att. General’s decisions that it will be more difficult for the immigrants to defend themselves in the Immigration court. It also means that chances to win for someone representing themselves without an attorney will decrease even more. If you need help with removal proceedings, you may request an appointment by calling 917-885-2261 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org.