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Organization And Functions Manual

17. EOIR Organization

Organization: EOIR is one of the Offices, Boards, and Divisions (OBDs) of the U.S. Department of Justice. EOIR is comprised of four major entities reporting to the Director: the Board of Immigration Appeals; the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge, which includes a headquarters staff and all Immigration Courts located throughout the country; the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer; and the Office of the Associate Director.

  1. Office of the Director: EOIR is headed by a Director, who is responsible for the supervision of the Chairman of the BIA, the Chief Immigration Judge, the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer, the Associate Director, and all agency personnel in the execution of their duties in accordance with 8 CFR Part 3.

    The Director exercises the authority delegated by the Attorney General and represents the position and policies of EOIR to the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General, Members of Congress and other governmental agencies, the press, the bar, and private groups interested in immigration matters. The Associate Director provides legal and administrative support to the Director and the EOIR component organizations.

  2. The Office of the General Counsel (OGC): The Office of the General Counsel provides legal advice to all the components within EOIR, handles all EOIR litigation, drafts statutory and regulatory amendments, and processes Freedom of Information and Privacy Act requests. The OGC also serves as the principal point of contact for U.S. Attorney offices, other Justice Department offices, and other government agencies on all legal matters. These duties include responding to inquiries from U.S. Attorney offices and agencies regarding general litigation support, subpoenas, and access to certified copies of EOIR documents such as the Records of Proceedings (ROP) from Immigration Courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals.
  3. Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA or Board): The BIA is a quasi-judicial body composed of twelve Board Members, including the Chairman and Vice Chairman, and a Chief Attorney Examiner (who is also an alternate Board Member). In addition, the Chief Attorney Examiner supervises a staff of attorney-advisors. The Board is located in Falls Church, Virginia, and hears oral argument only in that location.

    The Board has been given nationwide jurisdiction to hear appeals from certain decisions rendered by District Directors of the INS and by Immigration Judges in a wide variety of proceedings in which the government of the United States is one party and the other party is either an alien, a citizen, or a business firm. In addition, the BIA is responsible for recognition of organizations and accreditation of representatives requesting permission to practice before the Service, the Immigration Courts and the Board.

    Decisions of the Board are binding on all Service officers and Immigration Judges unless modified or overruled by the Attorney General or a Federal Court. Its decisions are subject to judicial review in the federal courts. The majority of appeals reaching the Board involve orders of deportation and applications for relief from deportation. Other cases before the Board include the exclusion of aliens applying for admission to the U.S., petitions to classify the status of alien relatives for the issuance of preference immigrant visas, fines imposed upon carriers for the violation of the immigration laws, and motions for reopening and reconsideration of decisions previously rendered.

    Upon the filing of an appeal by either party or certification of a case by the Immigration Judge or District Director, the record of proceeding is forwarded to the Board. Following a review of the record and research into questions of law raised by the parties, the attorney-advisor drafts a proposed order for consideration of the Board Members. He or she frequently confers with individual Board Members concerning the proposed order. Attorney-advisors also assist in various administrative and support functions. In addition to developing expertise in the field of immigration law, the attorney-advisor is often called upon to analyze questions of constitutional law, state, federal, and foreign civil and criminal law and to resolve questions relating to conflicts of law.

    The Board is directed to exercise its independent judgment in hearing appeals on behalf of the Attorney General and provides a nationally uniform interpretation and application of immigration laws, both in terms of the interpretation of the law and the exercise of the significant discretion vested in the Attorney General. BIA decisions designated for publication are printed in bound volumes entitled Administrative Decisions Under Immigration and Nationality Laws of the United States.

  4. Office of the Chief Immigration Judge (OCIJ): OCIJ is headed by the Chief Immigration Judge, who is supported by a Deputy Chief Immigration Judge and eight Assistant Chief Immigration Judges. OCIJ provides overall program direction, articulates policies and procedures, and establishes priorities for 179 United States Immigration Judges located in 34 Immigration Courts throughout the nation.

    U.S. Immigration Judges are responsible for conducting formal quasi-judicial proceedings, and act independently in their decision-making capacity; their decisions are administratively final, unless appealed or certified to the BIA. In exclusion proceedings, Immigration Judge determine whether an individual arriving from a foreign country should be allowed to enter the United States or should be excluded and deported. Each Judge has jurisdiction to consider various forms of relief available in exclusion proceedings. In deportation proceedings, Immigration Judges determine whether an individual who has already entered the United States is deportable from this country. In such proceedings, the Judge also adjudicates applications for the various forms of relief available under our immigration laws. These include applications for adjustment of status, suspension of deportation, voluntary departure, asylum, and waivers of inadmissibility or deportation.

    Through its Criminal Alien Institutional Hearing Program, OCIJ currently has programs coordinated and in place in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and selected municipalities and Bureau of Prison facilities, to conduct the immigration hearings for alien inmates incarcerated by federal, state, and municipal correctional authorities as a result of convictions for criminal offenses.

  5. Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO): OCAHO is headed by a Chief Administrative Hearing Officer who is responsible for the general supervision and management of four Administrative Law Judges who preside at hearings which are mandated by the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 and the Immigration Act of 1990. Administrative Law Judges hear cases and adjudicate issues arising under the provisions of the INA relating to (1) unlawful hiring, recruiting, or referring for a fee or continued employment of unauthorized aliens and failure to comply with employment verification requirements, (2) document fraud, and (3) immigration-related unfair employment practices. Complaints are brought by the INS, with the exception of those involving immigration-related unfair employment practices, which are brought by the Office of Special Counsel or private litigants as prescribed by statute.

    Hearings are conducted under applicable laws and regulations, as well as the general requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act. Employer sanctions and document fraud cases are subject to administrative review by the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer. All final agency decisions are reviewable in the federal courts.

  6. Office of the Associate Director (OAD): OAD is headed by the Associate Director who reports to the EOIR Director and is supported by three Deputy Associate Directors, who report to the Associate Director. This office supports all EOIR organizations by providing direct or coordinative administrative services in the areas of space, procurement, facilities, personnel, computer system management, operation and support, evaluation, budget, and related administrative matters.

Organizational Goals:

  1. To decide all immigration cases for which EOIR is responsible in a careful and timely manner, including cases involving detained aliens, criminal aliens, and aliens seeking asylum as a form of relief from deportation or exclusion, while ensuring the standards of due process and fair treatment for all parties involved.
  2. To fully implement the case processing and adjudication provisions of the Comprehensive Asylum Reform Initiative.
  3. To fully implement the case processing goals of the Expedited Deportation of Criminal Aliens Initiative, rendering decisions in all criminal alien cases prior to each alien's release from incarceration.
  4. To increase productivity by streamlining procedures and implementing management improvements.

[cited in USAM 1-2.401]