04 May 2016 Relief from removal/deportation because notice sent to old address
Many people were ordered removed/deported “in absentia” (in their absence) because they did not appear at their removal hearing. However, if they were not properly notified of the hearing date, there could be hope to have the case reopened and have the removal/deportation order canceled.
By law, an alien must provide the government with their current address and let the government know if they move or have a change of address. But, if the government then sends the hearing notice to an old or incorrect address, this could be a basis to have the case reopened. There was a recent court case, where an alien was picked up and provided the immigration officer with her current address. The immigration officer issued a Notice to Appear (NTA), listing her previous address, and then later sent a notice of the date and time of the hearing to that same old address. Naturally, the alien failed to appear at the hearing, because she never received the notice. The court held that because the government sent the hearing notice to the old address after the alien had notified the government of her current address, it was improper to have her ordered removed in absentia.
If you have been ordered removed, but did not receive proper notice, you should consult with an attorney, who can evaluate your case and advise you on the best course of action. However, be aware of the following:
- If you received a hearing notice sent to your current address, but were just too afraid to go to the hearing, this ruling would not necessarily apply to you, as it deals with situations where the person did not receive notice.
- The government would want written proof you notified them of your current or new address (i.e. certified letter, AR-11, etc.), versus your mere “verbal” testimony, such as “I made a phone call and told the person I moved. But I did not get their name and there is nothing in writing to prove my story.” (However, in the above case, the alien verbally provided the immigration officer of her new address. But written proof is better and stronger).
- If you will seek to reopen your case, it would be a good idea that you already have a “form of relief” available to you, or an immediate way to get a green card, such as you may have married a US citizen, your U.S. born child is now over 21, etc. It may not do any good to have a case reopened if you do not have a way to get a green card at that time. This is because the judge may reopen the case, due to your lack of notice, and just re – order you removed.
- It is also important to evaluate the reasons you were originally placed in removal/deportation, such as did you overstay, or did you commit a serious crime?
That is why it is best to first have an attorney evaluate your case, gather and package the appropriate proof and documentation, and represent you in court.
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