Even if you do not appear for your removal hearing, the hearing goes on without you and the judge will issue a deportation order in your absence, which is called an in absentia order. It has the full consequence of a removal order that is issued if you appeared and lost your case. But even these removal orders may be overturned later if, for example, you did not receive the notice of your hearing in the mail because you had moved, had told the government and they never sent it to the new address or because someone forgot to give the notice to you. If the right circumstances apply, you may be able to file a motion with the court to reopen your case and reverse your inabsentia order based on no notice or other exceptional circumstances based on evidence and arguments that you were unable to present the first time around.
There are no time restrictions for filing the motion to reopen if you did not receive your notice. An in absentia order may be rescinded by the immigration judge upon the filing of a motion to reopen if the respondent did not receive proper notice of the hearing. INA §240(b)(5)(C)(ii); INA §242B(c)(3)(B) (pre-IIRAIRA); 8 CFR §1003.23(b)(4)(ii), (iii)(A)(2); see Matter of Haim, 19 I&N Dec. 641, 642 (BIA 1988).
If you missed your hearing due to exceptional circumstances, you must file the motion to reopen within 180 days for the removal order (if issued on or after June 13, 1992), so time is of the essence. Supporting evidence must also be included to prove your statements. Some exceptional circumstances may include battery or extreme cruelty that you experienced at the time, serious illness that kept you from attending your hearing, or serious illness or death of the spouse, child, or parent.
Contact us today to review your removal order, the circumstances that surrounded your failure to attend your hearing, and get our recommendations for how to approach a motion to reopen or any other relief that you may qualify for given your history. Every case is different and these cases are very time sensitive so call us today.