Change of Venue

Counsel from a New Jersey Immigration Lawyer

A change of venue in an immigration case must take place prior to your scheduled hearing. If you have a deportation case that must be handled, it is important that you take all of the requirements so that there are no delays in processing your case.

How Are Deportation Cases Handled?

Deportation proceedings against an immigrant take place in the immigration court where the district director files Form I-862, Notice To Appear (NTA).The NTA is an official document served upon the immigrant that contains the charges or removability from the United States, as well as the place and time of the court hearing.

In some instances, there are changes in circumstances that justify a change of venue to a different immigration court. In less frequent cases, motion for a change of venue can be granted upon showing of error or abuse of discretion by the district director in determining the NTA filing venue.

An immigration judge may change venue upon a showing of good cause. 8 C.F.R. § 1003.20(b).

How to Show Good Cause for Your Appeal

The Board of Immigration Appeals held that good cause is determined by balancing certain factors that are relevant to the venue issue. Relevant factors include

  • administrative convenience;
  • expeditious treatment of the case;
  • location of witnesses,
  • cost of transporting witnesses.

Matter of Rahman, Interim Decision 3174 (BIA 1992).

Moreover, the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in citing Matter of Rahman held that "good cause is determined by balancing such factors as administrative convenience, the alien's residence, the location of witnesses, evidence and counsel, expeditious treatment of the case, and the cost of transporting witnesses and evidence to a new location". Lovell v. I.N.S., 52 F.3d 458, 460 (2d Cir. 1995).

Can a Change of Venue Motion Be Denied?

A denial of a motion for a change of venue is generally infrequent, although the immigration Court in Buffalo, New York is often very reluctant in granting them.

The BIA and Federal Courts have clearly stated that a denial of a motion for a change of venue constitutes reversible error only when the immigrant can show prejudice.

Reversible error was found in a denial of a change of venue, when the witnesses for the responded lived far away, and had to testify by either telephone or affidavit.

A Case Example

In Ngassaki v. Holder, an unpublished decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit dated September 13, 2013, the Court held that the inability of witnesses to testify in person, there might be a negative effect on the witnesses' credibility by the Court, and this would affect the overall fairness of the proceedings.

In sum, an Immigration Court has a duty to facilitate the testimony of witnesses.

In Monter v. Gonzales, 430 F.3d 546 (2d Cir. 2005), the Court placed great weight on the location of the respondent's witnesses to determine whether a motion for a change of venue should have been granted.

In that case, the Court noted that the respondent, as well as his witnesses, were located significantly closer to New York City than Buffalo, New York, and that the IJ's failure to facilitate the testimony of witnesses affected the overall fairness of the proceeding, and therefore was prejudicial.

If you have been placed in deportation proceedings, speak to a New Jersey immigration attorney to prepare the best defense possible and to apply for a change of venue, if necessary.

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