Practice Advisory

Filing an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) is a crucial step for many noncitizens facing removal because it is the last opportunity to obtain a favorable decision from the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Often, reviewing the immigration judge’s decision for errors is a daunting task. It can be difficult to separate identifying issues to appeal, from the overwhelming sense of injustice that can result from a negative decision. This advisory will focus on reviewing decisions by Immigration Judges (IJs) and identifying issues to raise on appeal to the BIA. The goal is to equip practitioners with a framework to look for errors where the IJ has denied relief or otherwise ordered removal.
Clients with mental illness have needs and vulnerabilities that present unique challenges in immigration proceedings. This practice advisory provides an overview on advocating for clients with mental health issues, specifically focusing on representation in the detained setting. The advisory discusses legal authority that an immigration practitioner can utilize to protect a client’s due process rights and ensure their client’s agency is respected and they have a meaningful opportunity to present their case.
This advisory provides detailed instruction on how and where to file a motion to reopen for attorneys who have successfully vacated a conviction for immigration purposes and their client is now eligible for termination or a form of relief. In addition, the advisory addresses the impact of the post-departure bar and reinstatement of prior removal order on post-conviction relief motions to reopen.
This advisory provides an overview of ICE’s new “victim-centered” approach to immigration enforcement based on an August 2021 directive, including who qualifies as a victim and which ICE actions are covered. As part of this new approach, ICE officers and agents are instructed to look out for and in various circumstances exercise prosecutorial discretion in favor of noncitizen survivors of crime as part of their decisions to arrest, detain, release, and refer noncitizens.
This advisory describes the various ways that persons with disabilities can navigate the naturalization process, including requesting accommodations, seeking an N-648 disability waiver of the English/civics requirement, and applying for an oath waiver. The advisory describes recent changes to the USCIS’s policy manual and upcoming changes to the N-648.
On April 3, 2022, ICE Principal Legal Advisor Kerry Doyle issued guidance to all OPLA attorneys on how and when to exercise prosecutorial discretion in removal proceedings under DHS’s enforcement priorities. That guidance took effect on April 25, 2022 and replaces the previous OPLA guidance issued by former Principal Legal Advisor John Trasviña in May 2021. The Doyle guidance presents new opportunities for practitioners to seek positive outcomes for clients facing deportation, while also presenting some new challenges. This practice advisory provides key information on the Doyle memo and practice tips on advocating for prosecutorial discretion for clients in removal proceedings. The advisory also includes information on the ongoing litigation challenging DHS’s enforcement priorities and how that litigation may affect OPLA’s exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
This advisory lays out some of the main “pros” and “cons” to applying for U nonimmigrant status for crime victims as they exist now, to help prospective applicants weigh the benefits and risks of applying. “Pros” include direct benefits of temporary lawful status, employment authorization, protection from removal, a pathway to a green card that is not barred by almost any grounds of inadmissibility, and the ability to help family members obtain immigration status. Additional “pros” include special confidentiality provisions, eligibility for public benefits, eligibility for the Central American Minors program, and special consideration by ICE, among other collateral benefits. “Cons” include very long processing times and vulnerability to divergent discretionary decisions during fluctuations in enforcement priorities and other policies in the many years it takes to get a decision.
On February 10, 2022, USCIS released several VAWA Self-Petition policy changes. The changes include the nationwide implementation of two circuit court decisions and changes in USCIS’s interpretation of the joint residence requirement for VAWA Self-Petitioners. This practice advisory contains short summaries of USCIS’s VAWA Self-Petition policy changes.