Reopening an Immigration Court Case

Reopening an immigration court case is the process of asking the immigration judge to open a case again once a final order has been issued. If additional evidence comes to light after a judge has issued a removal order, for instance, then it may be possible to reopen the case.

As an example, let’s assume that a person is ordered removed from the United States. Two months later, the person marries a U.S. citizen. Assuming the person would be eligible for adjustment of status were it not for the removal order, the person can ask the immigration judge to reopen the case so that his spouse can petition for him to get a green card.

In order to reopen an immigration case, the person with the final removal order must file a motion to reopen with the immigration court. There are certain time and numerical limits on a person’s ability to file a motion to reopen. Normally, a person is only allowed one such motion. In addition, that motion to reopen must generally be filed within 90 days of the final order of removal.

Even if a person is outside of the 90-day window or has already filed a motion to reopen, he will be permitted to file another motion to reopen under certain circumstances. If the judge issued an in absentia order (a removal order issued when a person failed to appear), then the person subject to the order can reopen his case within 180 days as long as he can show exceptional circumstances with regard to why he did not appear. A person can also reopen his case at any time if he can show that he did not receive adequate notice of his immigration court hearing.

The process of filing a motion to reopen is a complicated one. Please contact John L. Wheaton, Attorney at Law at 206-829-8214 if you need assistance with reopening your case.