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Failing To Attend An Immigration Hearing

There can be serious and lasting consequences to not showing up for a scheduled deportation or removal hearing before the immigration court, including an order of removal in absentia.

An in absentia order may be rescinded only under particular circumstances. The time limits for filing a motion to reopen depend on whether the motion is based on lack of proper notice or exceptional circumstances. Individuals are generally limited to only one motion to reopen.

“Proper notice” in removal proceedings means that ICE must serve the respondent with a Notice to Appear and written notice of all hearings. A motion to reopen based on lack of proper notice may be fled at any time.

The term “exceptional circumstances” refers to circumstances beyond the control of the foreign national, including, but not limited to, battery or extreme cruelty to the alien or any child or parent of the alien, serious illness of the foreign national, and serious illness or death of the spouse or child of the foreign national. A motion based on exceptional circumstances must be filed within 180 days after the date of the order of removal.

In addition to an order of removal, there is also a separate inadmissibility ground (i.e. eligibility bar to permanent residency) for someone who fails to attend a removal hearing. An individual who fails to attend a removal hearing without reasonable cause is more specifically barred from seeking admission (entry) to the United States for a period of 5 years from the date of his or her subsequent departure or removal from the United States.  There is no waiver of this bar, and it applies to people placed into court proceedings after April 1, 1997.

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