Immigration law is a very complex component of the legal system. For aliens charged with a violation of these laws, seeking proper representation is not only wise, it is essential if they want to remain in the United States.
Is Legal Representation Provided Under The Law?
The government does not provide legal representation in immigration cases. Aliens must secure representation at their own expense; however, federal regulations do stipulate who can act as a representative in the proceedings:
other qualified representatives
free legal services providers who have been approved
An alien can also elect self-representation – although this is not recommended – but no one else, including visa and immigration consultants, can act as a legal representative.
Are There Forms That Will Need to Be Filled Out During The Process?
Often times that answer is yes. There are several ways you can have an immigration case. If you are applying for benefits for immigration purposes, but are not yet in Immigration Court, the first step will be filling out forms and sending them into to the appropriate government agency, usually United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. If you are in immigration court, and have been served with a Notice to Appear and a Notice of Hearing for a court date, then you case will be heard in front of an immigration judge. If you live in Cactus, Texas, you case will likely be heard by the Dallas Immigration Court. The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) runs the court system through the U.S. Department of Justice. If you are eligible to seek “relief” (the ability to stay in the United States lawfully), then immigration forms will likely be needed to be filled out and filed appropriately.
If you lose your case in front of an immigration judge, then your case is usually decided by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), if you decide to appeal your case. This will mean that LOTS of paperwork and forms and even legal briefs will be needed. All paperwork will be sent to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in Falls Church, Virginia. All representatives have to file both appropriate paperwork (EOIR 28) prior to appearing in Immigration Court or in front of the BIA. These forms are available on the Department of Justice website.
Immigration attorneys are a highly recommended source of representation. Why? Their certification and standing with the state bar association(s) gives them automatic accreditation with the court. There are other hoops to jump through as far as proving a case, but no further recognition is necessary in the eyes of the federal legal system. Things aren't nearly as simple for the other representatives listed.
Nearly all other types of representation must be recognized and accredited by the BIA. There are different EOIR forms to file depending on the representative selected. It is important to review the accreditation qualifications for each representation type before deciding on one.
A coordinator will oversee the recognition and accreditation process. Once it is approved, the information for the chosen representative will be added to a listing that is maintained by the Department of Justice. Accreditation is a temporary status, it usually needs to be applied for every three years.
Is My Case Put On Hold During The Accreditation Process?
NO. Your case will proceed regardless of your representation. You should try to find a representative who is already accredited prior to starting your case. The accreditation process is difficult and time-consuming and there is no guarantee of approval. There are many qualifying factors to consider. It is far better to have a recognized attorney or previously accredited representative on your side once your case has started.
Attorney Cindy Goodman, of Stockard, Johnston, Brown & Netardus, P.C. in Amarillo, can and will provide immigration legal services in Cactus, Texas. Contact her now to discuss your case and to have a free consultation to determine your eligibility for relief.