Reopening Court Cases Because Notice Was Not Received at the Last Known Address
by Elizabeth R. Blandon

A case for removal or deportation of a foreign national is final unless it can be reopened. The time limit for reopening cases is 180 days after the final order is entered unless an exception applies, such as because the order of removal was sent to the foreign national’s incorrect address.

Is Reopening Possible? Reopening can be filed at any time if the foreign national can demonstrate that the failure to appear was due to a lack of proper notice. However, the Immigration Judge or an appellate authority determines whether the notice was proper by looking to the last known address provided by the foreign national. It has been held that a case can be reopened, even seven years later, because the prior notices did not include the correct zip code or law firm name. Of course, the foreign national must be able to demonstrate reasonable attempts to follow up on their status during those years.

When Should a Case Be Reopened? Even if a case can be reopened, there is of course no advantage in doing so unless the foreign national can obtain an immigration benefit. If the foreign national can obtain residency based on a family or employment relationship, the case may merit reopening.

Another possibility is cancellation of removal pursuant to which the government may cancel removal from the U.S. on behalf of someone who:

Has been physically present in the U.S. for a continuous period of ten years prior to the institution of removal proceedings;
Has been a person of good moral character for ten years;
Is not inadmissible under criminal and security grounds, or deportable under marriage fraud, criminal grounds), failure to register and falsification of documents or security grounds); and
Whose removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to his/her spouse, parent, or child, who is a citizen of the United States or a legal permanent resident.

Cancellation of removal is usually only available if the case began after April 1, 1997, because at that time a law known as IIRAIRA changed deportation procedures to removal procedures. To schedule a consultation, call the office.