Reopening your immigration case

Have you lost your immigration case?  Was it more than 30 days ago?  Although you may no longer file a direct appeal, you should speak to an experienced immigration attorney about filing a motion to reopen.  

What is a motion to reopen?

If you are able to reopen your case, it has the effect of undoing your order of removal. Motions to reopen are most appropriate when you wish to present new evidence in support of your case that was not available at the time of your last hearing.

When do motions to reopen have to be filed?

Motions to reopen must filed within 90 days of your removal order, but there are exceptions. The first exception applies to those who missed their hearing and were ordered removed in their absence. If you did not receive notice of your removal hearing, there is no time limit for when you may file a motion to reopen. Or, if you failed to appear for your last hearing due to “exceptional circumstances” beyond your control — such as a serious illness in the family — you have 180 days in which to file a motion to reopen.  

The second exception applies to those who wish to reopen their case to apply for asylum. There is no time limit for filing this type of motion to reopen if you can show changed circumstances in your home country materially affecting your eligibility for asylum.

The third exception applies to those who lost their case due to the shoddy performance of their former attorney. If that applies to your situation, you may be able to reopen your case after the 90-day filing deadline  — and perhaps even years after the fact — but it heavily depends on what your former lawyer did, when you discovered the error, and what steps you took to address the problem.

Lastly, if the circumstances of your case are particularly compelling, ICE may be willing to file a joint motion to reopen, or the judge may be willing to reopen your case voluntarily. In either scenario, there is no time limit for when you must act.  

I spent two years clerking for two of the busiest immigration courts in the country — Los Angeles and Miami — and, in that time, I drafted hundreds of court orders recommending rulings on motions to reopen. I have also litigated countless motions to reopen as a government attorney.


If you have lost your case and wish to discuss your options, contact me today.

Call (480) 404-6334 or schedule a consultation online

Skype appointments are available