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Chapter 3 - Filing with the Board

3.2 - Service

(a) Service Requirement — The requirement to serve documents on the opposing party depends on whether both parties are participating in ECAS, as explained below.  See 8 C.F.R. §§ 1003.2(g)(9), 1003.3(g)(6).

          (1) ECAS completes service — If all parties are using ECAS in a specific case, the parties do not need to separately serve any electronically filed documents on the opposing party.  Rather, the ECAS system will automatically send service notifications to both parties that a new document has been filed.  The parties must continue to include a certificate of service with their electronic filing, but simply note in the certificate that service was completed through ECAS.

          For purposes of ECAS service, DHS is always considered to be participating in ECAS.  Conversely, when DHS is electronically filing, EOIR will provide a notification to DHS users in the DHS Portal as to whether the opposing party is participating in ECAS or requires separate service outside of the ECAS system.

          (2) Separate service required — If one or more parties is not using ECAS in a specific case, then the parties must complete service separately outside of the ECAS system.

          If separate service is required, a party must:

  • provide, or “serve,” a copy on the opposing party (or, if the party is represented, the party’s practitioner of record), and
  • declare, in writing, that a copy has been served on the opposing party (or, if the party is represented, the party’s practitioner of record)

          For a respondent in proceedings, the opposing party is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  In most instances, a DHS Chief Counsel or a specific Assistant Chief Counsel is the designated officer to receive service.  The opposing party is never the Board or the immigration judge.

          This written declaration is called a “Proof of Service,” which is also referred to as a “Certificate of Service.”  See subsection (d), below, and Appendix F (Cert. of Service).  See also 8 C.F.R. §§ 1003.2(g)(1), 1003.3(a)(1), 1003.3(c).

          (b) Method of Service — Service may be accomplished electronically, by hand or by mail.  Paper service is complete upon hand delivery of papers to a responsible person at the address of the person being served or upon the mailing of the papers.

          (c) Timing of Service — The Proof of Service must bear the actual date of transmission and accurately reflect the means of transmission (e.g., electronic, regular mail, hand delivery, overnight courier, or delivery).  In all instances, service must be calculated to allow the other party sufficient opportunity to act upon or respond to the served material.

          (d) Proof of Service —  An appeal or motion, and all subsequent filings in support of an appeal or motion, must be accompanied by Proof of Service on the opposing party.  See Appendix F (Cert. of Service).  Some forms, such as the Notice of Appeal (Form EOIR‑26), contain a Certificate of Service, which functions as a Proof of Service.  The Board rejects any submission that is filed without Proof of Service on the opposing party.  See Chapter 3.1(c)(1) (Meaning of “rejected”).  The only exception is a motion that is agreed upon by all parties and jointly filed (because both parties are presumed to have seen the motion they are filing together).

          A Proof of Service must specify the following:

  • the name or title of the party served
  • the precise and complete address of the party served
  • the date of service
  • the means of service (e.g., electronic, 1st class mail, overnight delivery, hand-delivery, etc.)
  • the document or documents being served
  • the name of the person serving the document

          Every Proof of Service must be signed by the person serving the document.  The Proof of Service need not be signed by the party but may be signed by someone designated by the party.  In contrast, the document(s) being served must be signed by the individual who drafted or prepared the documents, whether DHS, an unrepresented or pro se respondent, a practitioner of record, or a practitioner who drafted, completed, or prepared the document(s) pursuant to a limited appearance for document assistance.  See Chapter 3.3(b) (Signatures).

          If service is being completed through ECAS, the Proof of Service should state, “This document was electronically filed through ECAS and both parties are participating in ECAS.  Therefore, no separate service was completed.”

          (e) Practitioner of Record and Service — 

          (1) Service upon a practitioner of record — Service upon a practitioner of record constitutes service upon the person or entity represented.  See 8 C.F.R. § 1292.5(a).

          (2) Service by a represented respondent — The Board recommends that, whenever a respondent is represented, the respondent allow their practitioner of record handle a filing with the Board.  See Chapter 2.1(b)(7) (Filings After Entry of Appearance as Practitioner of Record).  If, however, a represented respondent wishes to file a document without the assistance of their practitioner of record, the respondent should serve copies of that document on both DHS and the practitioner of record, with a separate Proof of Service for each.  See subsection (d), above.

(3) Service by an unrepresented respondent who received document assistance from a practitioner An unrepresented or pro se respondent who received document assistance from a practitioner (or the designee listed on the Proof of Service) must serve the DHS with the completed Notice of Limited Appearance (Form EOIR-60) and assisted document or set of documents.

          (f) Proof of Service and the Notice of Appearance — All filings with the Board must include a Proof of Service that identifies the item being filed.  See subsection (d), above. Thus, the completed Proof of Service on a Notice of Appearance (Form EOIR‑27) or a Notice of Limited Appearance (Form EOIR-60) by itself is not considered sufficient proof of service of documents accompanying the Form EOIR-27 or Form EOIR-60.