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How Do You Change Where Removal Proceedings Take Place?

Last updated on Sep 6th, 2017

Switching immigration courts is known as changing the venue. To change venue, the noncitizen (through his or her attorney, ideally) needs to file a motion (a written or oral application requesting a court to make a specified ruling or order) with the immigration court from which he or she wants to switch. Through this motion (a motion for change of venue), a memorandum (a party’s written statement of its legal arguments), and documentary evidence, the immigrant must show “good cause.”

An immigration judge is only permitted to grant such motion and to change the venue if the noncitizen establishes good cause. If the judge does not grant the motion, the noncitizen must appear at the proceedings in the venue from which he or she requests or requested a change.

In arriving at his or her decision concerning whether the noncitizen has shown good cause, the court must consider the following points:

  • Administrative convenience,
  • The expeditious treatment of the case,
  • Location of witnesses, including the noncitizen in removal proceedings,
  • The cost of transporting witnesses or evidence to a new location,
  • Whether the noncitizen has provided an address where she can be reached, and
  • Whether the noncitizen would be materially prejudiced if a hearing were conducted in the venue from which the noncitizens requests the change.

Some examples of good cause may include:

  • The noncitizen and her witnesses reside closer to the immigration court to which the noncitizen wants to change.
  • The noncitizen does not have any family or community ties in the area where the proceedings are currently held but has family or community ties in the jurisdiction to which the change of venue is requested.
  • The noncitizen’s employer had previously arranged to transfer him or her for work, prior to the start of removal proceedings, to the jurisdiction to which a change of venue is sought.
  • The noncitizen purchased a home and obtained new employment, prior to the start of removal proceedings, in the jurisdiction to which a change of venue is sought.
  • The noncitizen is a victim of domestic violence, smuggling/trafficking, or a crime of violence and seeks to relocate away from the area in which the abuse occurred.

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