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Change of Venue at Immigration Court

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What happens if I move inside the United States while I'm being deported?

Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.

With the sharp increase in the number of deportation cases and the long backlogs that we're seeing for people to get a trial date, many people have been wondering and asking us about what happens if I move while my deportation case is pending?

So when you receive a notice to appear in immigration court, you're going to be assigned to the closest immigration court to you, the Executive Office of Immigration Review that's closest for you.

For instance, we're here in St. Louis, Missouri, and our EOIR, our immigration court, is in Kansas City, Missouri. So that's on the other side of the state. It's about a four hour drive. And so that court actually serves, I think it's five or six states. That's how many cases they have at that office. And this is true of many immigration courts around the country.

So when you are put into removal, you're assigned to the local EOIR or the closest EOIR.

And so sometimes with these cases not getting a court date or a trial date, which is called an individual hearing, until two or three years later, we're really starting to see people needing to move or wanting to move for a job, and they want to know, well, what happens with my case?

And so typically what you'll do is you'll file a motion for change of venue. So you'll notify USCIS and the EOIR, Homeland Security that your address has changed.

And then depending on where you are in the process, you might be able to obtain a change of venue. So the way that would work is you actually file a motion with the court, and then the office of chief counsel would have the opportunity to respond, and then the judge would rule on it.

Now, typically judges like to get cases off their plate. So if you file a motion for change of venue, sort of early on in your case, that's more likely going to be granted.

Now, if you have... and we've made prior videos about how you have master calendar hearings and master calendar is sort of like a call docket where the judge is just sort of checking on the participants in the deportation and seeing what's going on in between the time that the case starts and the time of trial.

And if you file a motion for change of venue at that early stage, it's much more likely to be granted. At the same time, if you're coming up against the individual hearing itself, and the judge has set aside a time for you, it might be a little bit harder to get that motion for change of venue granted.

So this is probably something that you're going to need help with from an immigration lawyer. Getting a change of venue without a lawyer, I think would be sort of tricky. I suppose that people do it from time to time. But you're going to want to explain to the judge why your case should be transferred.

Now, one other thing on this topic of change of venue that I want to mention is that some people really try to play it cute and they say to themselves, oh, I hear the immigration judges in San Francisco or Los Angeles or in the Ninth Circuit overall are really beneficial and more fair towards immigrants.

So I'm going to have my case there, but I'm really going to go live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Don't do that. You've got to play it straight. It's going to come back to bite you.

So don't try to be too cute with the venue for your case. Just make sure that you update your address. And sometimes when you update your address, the government might be the ones to move for a change of venue. So these are the kinds of things to think about if you're moving while your deportation case is pending.

If you have questions about this or about anything related to deportation or immigration in general, give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can email us at [email protected].

Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. And if you liked this video, we ask that you please share it out on social and subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you get updates whenever we make videos, just like this one. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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