Administrative Closure

Criminal Immigration Attorney

Administrative Closure is a procedural mechanism to temporarily stop deportation proceedings by removing the case from the Immigration Judge’s or Board of Immigration Appeals’ (BIA) calendar. Administrative closure is only available to immigrants who are currently in removal proceedings but have not yet received a final order of removal.

When a deportation case is administratively closed, it is indefinitely removed from the docket of an Immigration Judge or the BIA until one or both parties ask for it to be re-calendered for a new hearing. Either party may request administrative closure to an immigration judge.

Administrative closure does not permanently terminate the case, eliminate the existing Notice to Appear, nor result in a final order of removal. Immigrants whose cases are administratively closed do not receive any lawful immigration status, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has refused to grant employment authorization documents unless they would otherwise be eligible.

Until recently, the law required that the foreign national and the government had to jointly move for administrative closure. However, on January 31, 2012, the BIA published an important decision on administrative closure.

Matter of Avetisyan involved a native of Armenia who entered the United States as a J-1 visa holder and thereafter was placed in removal proceedings based on her failure to maintain the conditions of J-1 status. She was recently married to someone who was in the process of naturalizing and the couple had recently had a child together. At the final hearing, the respondent asked that her removal proceedings be administratively closed so that her marriage-based visa petition could be adjudicated by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The Immigration Judge administratively closed proceedings over the DHS counsel’s objection. The BIA agreed that the Immigration Judge had the authority to administrative close proceedings, and found that the Immigration Judge’s decision was properly exercised. DHS could not unilaterally deny the foreign national’s ability to obtain administrative closure.

Administrative Closure: who qualifies?

In determining whether administrative closure of proceedings is appropriate, an Immigration Judge or the BIA should weigh all relevant factors, including but not limited to:

  1. the reason administrative closure is sought;
  2. the basis for any opposition to administrative closure;
  3. the likelihood the respondent will succeed on any petition, application, or other action he or she is pursuing outside of removal proceedings;
  4. the anticipated duration of the closure;
  5. the responsibility of either party, if any, in contributing to any current or anticipated delay; and
  6. the ultimate outcome of removal proceedings (for example, termination of the proceedings or entry of a removal order) when the case is re-calendared before the Immigration Judge or the appeal is reinstated before the Board.

People currently in removal proceedings who would otherwise qualify for the provisional waiver can seek both termination and administrative closure.

Termination, on the other hand, means that the respondent is no longer in removal proceedings.

If you are in removal proceedings and you believe you qualify for administrative closure, speak to a criminal and immigration lawyer as soon as possible.

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