How is Immigration Court Different from Other Courts?
Many very important immigration-related decisions are made by Immigration Court. These include asylum applications and deportation proceedings. However, while a decision from an Immigration Court judge has a binding effect, Immigration Court differs from other courts in several ways.
First, Immigration Court is technically not a court at all, but is an administrative body. It is not part of the U.S. judicial branch. Instead, Immigration Court is a part of the Department of Justice (DOJ), which reports to the President.
Immigration Court operates without a jury. In its place, the judge makes a decision after hearing arguments from you and from the opposing attorney (who represents the government). Immigration Court judges are appointed by the DOJ, and are not subject to any other approval or popular vote.
You can appeal the decision of the Immigration Court judge. This appeal does not go to another court, but instead goes to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). Here, a panel of 1 to 3 judges will review your case and either uphold the judge’s decision or overturn it. It is possible to appeal the BIA’s decision, at which point your case would move out of the Immigration Court system and into the federal appellate court system.
Despite these differences, Immigration Court functions much as a regular court does. It is important to carefully prepare just as you would for any other court case. The Immigration Court strongly recommends that you hire an experienced immigration attorney to represent you before the court.
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Last Modified: 03-14-2012 03:03 PM PDT
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