The Immigration Court is an administrative court system that only deals with immigration issues. There are over 50 Immigration Courts with more than 200 judges in the United States.
What Role Does the Department of Justice Play?
The Department of Justice (DOJ) runs the entire Immigration Court system. In addition to hiring all Immigration Court judges, the DOJ sets the courts’ rules and procedures. The DOJ also oversees Board of Immigration Appeals, which is the first step in the appellate process for the Immigration Courts. An organization chart for the court system can be found on the DOJ’s website.
Are Other Agencies Involved with Immigration Issues?
Most people concerned with an immigration issue work with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The DHS enforces immigration laws and administers immigration and naturalization benefits. The DHS took over these responsibilities from the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in 2002.
It is important to note that the DHS is a completely separate organization from the Immigration Courts. When you have a hearing before the Immigration Courts, the opposing lawyer will be representing DHS.
Should I Hire an Attorney for Immigration Court?
For some immigration procedures, you may not need an attorney. However, if you are going to appear in immigration court, you should hire an immigration attorney. An attorney will ensure that your interests are represented. This is particularly important as your immigration status could be in jeopardy.