News and Information

Evolution of the U.S Immigration Court System: Post-1983

1983 - The Attorney General moved immigration judges and the BIA into DOJ's newly-created agency, EOIR, to administer the Nation's immigration court system. Within EOIR:

  • The Office of the Chief Immigration Judge had and continues to have supervisory authority over immigration judges and immigration courts nationwide; and
  • The BIA had and continues to have authority to decide appeals of immigration judge decisions, and to designate certain BIA decisions as precedent decisions that apply to immigration cases nationwide. The BIA is the highest administrative tribunal for interpreting and applying U.S. immigration law.

48 Fed. Reg. 8,038 (Feb. 25, 1983).

1987 - The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and its subsequently promulgated implementing regulations established the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) within EOIR to decide cases related to illegal hiring and employment eligibility verification violations ("employer sanctions"), and unfair immigration-related employment practices. 52. Fed. Reg. 44,971 (Nov. 24, 1987).

1990 - The Immigration Act of 1990 added immigration document fraud to OCAHO's jurisdiction and codified over-documentation or "document abuse" by employers in the employment eligibility verification process as an unfair immigration-related employment practice.

1997 - The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996 implemented a comprehensive revision of EOIR procedures. IIRIRA combined deportation proceedings and exclusion proceedings into a single proceeding called a "removal proceeding." The terms "deportation" and "exclusion" became obsolete and were replaced with the term "removal" for proceedings that began on or after April 1, 1997. IIRIRA also added discriminatory intent as a required element to prove document abuse.

1997 - EOIR Now Responsible for Maintaining List of Free Legal Service Providers.

1999 - Board Issues Practice Manual and Other Documents to Assist Practitioners and Public.

2000 - EOIR Opens Virtual Law Library on the Internet.

2001 - Board of Immigration Appeals Launches PRO BONO Project.

2001 - Board of Immigration Appeals Begins Issuing Precedent Decisions in Publication Format.

2002 - The Homeland Security Act of 2002 codified EOIR's separation from INS. It abolished the INS, transferred INS's immigration enforcement and immigration benefit functions to the newly-created DHS, and maintained the Attorney General's authority over EOIR.

2003 - New Legal Orientation Program Underway To Aid Detained Aliens.

2003 - Reorganization of Title 8 Regulations Due to Transfer of Functions.

2006 - EOIR Adds 10 New Legal Orientation Program Sites - Initiates Sites for Children.

2008 - EOIR Issues Manual for Presenting Cases Before Immigration Courts Nationwide.

2008 - EOIR Adds 12 New Legal Orientation Program Sites.


Updated April 30, 2015