Failing to notify the immigration court of your changed address
A noncitizen having to traverse through immigration course proceedings will find that because of the many rules dictating court procedures and also eligibility for different forms of relief, the court process will become extremely confusing to an inexperienced individual. As a result, it is easy for such a noncitizen to fall into a pitfall disqualifying him from a benefit or resulting in an order of deportation.
One such common pitfall are cases where a noncitizen who is awaiting a court hearing date, changing his residence and/or mailing address. The problem results from the fact that immigration courts typically provide notice of hearings by mail especially if the noncitizen has never been scheduled for a hearing before. Similarly, in cases where a noncitizen has been to a previous court hearing and was provided with notice of the next hearing date at court, many times the court may reschedule that hearing date and notify the noncitizen by mail.
The problem is further compounded by the fact that most noncitizens are also reporting to immigration customs enforcement agents to check in where the enforcement agent is monitoring the noncitizen to make sure he is attending his court dates and not breaking the law. This check in process also requires the noncitizen to inform the enforcement agent of the changed address. As a result, many noncitizens believe that the enforcement agent will inform the immigration court of the changed address as well. However, the problem is that enforcement agents rarely communicate directly with the immigration courts. The only contact enforcement agents have with the immigration courts occurs in two specific instances.
One, is when the enforcement agent detains the noncitizen and decides to open the deportation case by filing a document known as the Notice to Appear to begin the formal deportation case. You can read more about opening deportation/removal cases or the Notice to Appear here. After opening of the deportation case, there is no further communication between the court and the agents until and if the immigration case ends in a deportation order. You can read more about the deportation/removal court process here. After the deportation order is issued, the enforcement agents will be notified by the court and at that point the agents will decide whether to enforce the deportation order against the noncitizen subject to deportation.
Since there is no continuous lines of communication between the immigration, or the enforcement agents, noncitizens who change their address must also notify the court of the changed address. Emphasizing that even if notice was provided to an enforcement agent, such notice will not be enough for the noncitizen to fulfill his notification obligations to the court. Certainly, in the Notice to Appear that is used to open the deportation case, such notice provides a specific advisal to the noncitizen that he is required to notify the court of a changed address advising of the specific form to use to notify the court which is the E-33.
The lesson here is read carefully all documents provided related to an immigration matter or better yet, seek the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney to properly track the hearing dates and all other requirements required to defend your case.
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