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5 Things You Need To Know If You Will Be Representing Yourself In Immigration Court

Author: US Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

Things To Know If You Representing Yourself In Immigration Court

If you are considering representing yourself in Immigration court, you need to educate yourself on some important points. You should know that in a hearing that will take place, you will be the only non-legally trained person, apart from your interpreter (if you will need one). It means that you have to be prepared to understand at least some of the legal language that will be used and will have to learn some of the procedure that is taking place in court. For example, if your defense to the removal is an asylum, you need to know that when you respond to the notice to appear allegations, you should decline to designate a country for removal. An “adjournment” means that the hearing will be postponed to a later date.


All filings in Immigration Court are done according to the Immigration Court Practice Manual. This manual is available online and determines when and how you can submit documents to the court, which documents can be submitted, etc. The Immigration Court Practice Manual provides for samples of a cover page, table of content and in detail describes how to assemble the documents.


It is very important to know that whatever documents or correspondence you send or file with the Immigration court, copies of the same have to be provided to the prosecutor. Your submissions to the Immigration court have to be accompanied by the proof of such service.


Some applications that you file with Immigration court and the government representative in Immigration court must also be filed with USCIS. Usually, you will receive instructions about this in the Immigration Court. It is very important to file such applications with USCIS after you file them with the Immigration Court because if you do not do it, the filing will not count.


During the individual hearing, a government representative will challenge your story and documents. The documents can be challenged if they are not properly authenticated, for example. Your testimony can be challenged if it is inconsistent or lacks details. Your written affidavit will be a lot of help here, as it will help you to look at your testimony critically, and try to see where a government representative will try challenging you.


The deadlines are very important. You can lose your case without even seeing a judge if you miss a hearing; come late for a hearing; if you fail to file documents within deadlines; fail to file a witness list within deadlines, etc. Some of the deadlines are established by the Immigration Court Practice Manual, some by law, and some are by the judge.

If you have questions regarding the Immigration Court hearings, please consult with us: call 917 885 2261.

03 December 2017
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