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What If I Missed My Hearing?

If you missed an immigration court hearing, you most likely received a removal order for being absent (an in absentia removal order). You can take to try to reopen your case but it is important that you file a motion to reopen as soon as possible. You are obligated to act as soon as you learn that you missed your hearing.

I strongly suggest that you speak with an immigration attorney. You can get a free consultation with an attorney just to get their opinion on it. If you can afford to hire an attorney to assist you with this process then you probably should but if you simply can’t afford one and can’t find a pro bono attorney to take your case then you can certainly do it yourself.

If you have a valid reason for why you could not make it to your hearing (you were in the hospital or in an accident) or if you never received notice of the hearing then you have grounds to reopen your hearing. You can use the template Motion to Reopen to explain to the Judge why you missed the hearing. If you did not receive a hearing notice then you should explain that in the motion and provide the Court with your current address to make sure they have your correct address on record. If you missed your hearing for some other reason you should provide evidence of your claim (hospital records, doctor letter, police report, or even just a letter from another person corroborating your story).

Before you do anything make sure you check the immigration court automated case status system online or by phone to confirm. To check online, enter your A Number on this website. To check by phone, call 1-800-898-7180.

If the system says that you received a removal order, it is still possible to try to reopen your case. You will need to file a “motion to reopen” with the immigration court. You should try to find a lawyer to help you with this process. Respondents represented by counsel are much more likely to succeed in immigration court. If you cannot find a pro bono attorney and cannot afford to hire counsel then you can file the motion to reopen yourself just to make sure it is filed as soon as possible. You can use this template motion to reopen from the immigration court. 

If you want to try to reopen your case, it is important to begin this process immediately.