Website Q & A - October 3, 2007

Factors in Deciding Whether to Attempt to Reopen an Old Deportation Order

Dear Mr. Lee,

I and my parents went to the United States in 1995 from Indonesia under a tourist visa. I was only 13 at the time, but my dad applied for political asylum for all of us and the case was lost in the immigration court in 1996. The immigration judge gave us voluntary departure until January 1997. My father has a labor certification pending under the employment third preference since April 2001 which would make him eligible for section 245(i). My fiancee is a U.S. citizen and we are thinking of being married in the next three months. Can we reopen our cases ?

Dear reader:

Because of your age at the time the proceedings, you would present much more appealing circumstances for reopening of your case upon your marriage to a U.S. citizen than your parents. This is of course assuming that the marriage is bonafide. At such age, you were not legally capable of making up your own mind as to request for or violate the voluntary departure order. With your father's situation, he should determine what is happening with his labor certification application at this time as the Department of Labor has by and large completed its backlog of cases. Assuming that he later has the labor certification approved, he would have a much harder time convincing the U.S.I.C.E. district counsel's office to agree to reopen his case because of his violation of the voluntary departure order. Motions to reopen proceedings by right must be done within 90 days of the order or else are generally considered untimely and require the agreement of U.S.I.C.E. unless there are exceptional circumstances that would move the immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals to reopen.


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The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any particular set of facts or circumstances. It should not be construed as legal advice and does not constitute an engagement of the Law Office of Alan Lee or establish an attorney-client relationship.