In the United States, immigration law courts have limited jurisdiction to hear cases against non-US citizens charged with removability from the U.S. under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Federal immigration law courts are part of the U.S. department of justice and are located in virtually all of the 50 States.
Pursuant to U.S. administrative law, immigration judges are authorized under Article I of the U.S. Constitution. Therefore, they do not exercise full judicial power, but only upon immigration matters.
Contrary to other judicial officers, immigration judges do not have the power to offer advisory opinions, as it would be in violation of the power afforded them under the Administrative Procedures Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. §557.
During removal proceedings, immigration judges have the power to administer oaths, take testimony or the respondent and any expert, rule on evidentiary matters, and make factual and legal determinations.
Generally, removal proceedings based on a criminal conviction do not start until there is a conviction that is final and cannot be appealed to the Appellate Division.
Immigration proceedings are considered civil litigation matters, and they have their own set of rules. Only attorneys with extensive experience in immigration law have the necessary skills to represent individuals in federal immigration courts.
Federal immigration law provides that immigration lawyers can practice in any immigration court of the country, as long as they are licensed in at least one U.S. jurisdiction. The same is true for cases before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).
The BIA has exclusive jurisdiction to decide appeals from immigration courts’ decisions. An immigration appeal must be filed within 30 days from the day the decision of the immigration judge is served on the respondent and the attorney for the U.S. government.
An unfavorable decision of the BIA can be appealed to a U.S. Court of Appeals. Federal Appeals are filed in rare cases, because only few immigrants can afford to be represented by an attorney. During the Federal Appeals process, it will be necessary to make a motion for a stay of execution of the decision, and also a motion for animmigration bond if the immigrant is still in custody of the Federal authorities.
Deportation cases are sensitive matters and federal immigration laws provide that an unfavorable outcome can result in a permanent ban from re-entering the United States, or make an immigrant permanently ineligible for US Citizenship.