Immigrants “Venue” Status

Address Changes and What it Means to an Immigrants “Venue” Status

We cannot overemphasize the importance of the fact that providing an immigration court with a change of address does not result in a change of venue.

8 C.F.R. 1003.20 (a) provides that [v]enue shall lie at the Immigration Court where jurisdiction vests pursuant to [8 C.F.R.] 1003.14.

Address Changes and What it Means to an Immigrants “Venue” Status Venue determines the location of the immigration court which will hear the alien’s removal proceeding. Thus if ICE El Paso detains an alien and files an NTA with the immigration court in El Paso, venue will remain in that court regardless of any change in address filed with the court. The only way to effect a change in venue is to file a Motion to Change Venue with the court in accordance with 8 C.F.R. 1003.20. Such motions require a justification. A change of address in normally sufficient justification. Why is this distinction important? Assume that venue established in El Paso, but the alien, after posting bond, moves to Chicago and provides the court with a valid address. The court will send notices of all hearings to the Chicago address, but, absent a change in venue, those hearings will take place in El Paso. Thus, to avoid an in absentia order of removal, the alien would have to travel from Chicago to El Paso for the hearing. Takeaway: Filing a change of address does not move the alien’s case to the immigration court most convenient to the alien’s residence. To effect such a change, someone must file a Motion to Change Venue with the immigration court currently having jurisdiction over the case.

Author: Doug Wood

Mr. Wood grew up in the Tidewater (Norfolk/Virginia Beach) area of Virginia. After earning a BA in History from the College of William and Mary in 1963, he attended the Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. He received his commission in March, 1964, and went on the serve five years on active duty. He then enrolled in the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at William and Mary, and graduated in 1972. Mr. Wood spent his legal career with a variety of federal government agencies. The last 11 of this were with the (then) Immigration and Naturalization Service. For the last five of these years he was the lead attorney on all matters relating to immigration bonds. Upon his retirement in 2001, he began a career as a consultant to a number of immigration bond companies. Although retired from the bar, he continues to provide consulting services to immigration bond companies around the country.

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