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Chapter 1 – Introduction to EOIR

1.5 - Court and Headquarters Locations

(a) The Office of the Chief Immigration Judge

     (1) Headquarters - OCIJ, which oversees the administration of the immigration courts nationwide, is located at the EOIR headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia.  See Appendix A (Directory).  Access to OCIJ headquarters offices is limited to authorized personnel and their guests.

     (2) Immigration courts and hearing locations - OCIJ employs immigration judges in immigration courts nationwide.  A list of immigration courts is available in Appendix A (Directory) as well as on the EOIR website.

Immigration judges sometimes hold hearings in alternate locations, such as designated detail cities where the caseload is significant but inadequate to warrant the establishment of a permanent immigration court.  Immigration judges also conduct hearings in DHS detention centers nationwide, as well as many federal, state, and local correctional facilities.  Parties should file documents pertaining to hearings held in these locations at the appropriate location.  See ICPM, Chapter 3 (Filing with the Immigration Court).

In addition, immigration judges sometimes conduct hearings by video conference or, under certain conditions, by telephone conference.  See ICPM, Chapter 4.7 (Hearings by Video or Telephone Conference).

With certain exceptions, hearings before immigration judges are open to the public.  See ICPM, Chapter 4.9 (Public Access). For additional information on the conduct of immigration court hearings, see ICPM, Chapter 4.12 (Courtroom Decorum), 4.13 (Electronic Devices).

(b) Board of Immigration Appeals

The offices of the BIA are located at the EOIR headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia.  See Appendix A (Directory).  With the specific exceptions made for the public information window and the Oral Argument Room, access is limited to authorized personnel and their guests.  See BIA PM, Chapter 8 (Oral Argument).

(c) The Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer

The offices of OCAHO are located at EOIR headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia.  See Appendix A (Directory).  Access to OCAHO headquarters offices is limited to authorized personnel and their guests.  In cases arising under INA § 274B, “due regard shall be given to the convenience of the parties and the witnesses in selecting a place for a hearing.” 28 C.F.R. § 68.5(b). For cases arising under INA § 274A or 274C, the hearing shall be held “at the nearest practicable place to the place where the person or entity resides or to the place where the alleged violation occurred.” Id.  OCAHO hearings are open to the public but may be closed by an ALJ “where to do so would be in the best interests of the parties, a witness, the public, or other affected persons.” 28 C.F.R. §  68.39(a).

(d) Inspection of the Record

          (1) Parties - Parties to a proceeding, and their representatives, may inspect the official records of proceedings.  A FOIA request is not required.  Inspection by prior arrangement with the immigration court staff or the Board Clerk’s Office, whichever has control over the record, is strongly recommended to ensure that the official record of proceedings is immediately available.  Individual immigration courts can be reached by using the following email model: "EOIR.xyz.ROP.Requests@usdoj.gov" where the "xyz" represents the relevant immigration court's three-letter code.  See Appendix Q (Immigration Court Three Letter Codes); ICPM, Chapter 1.5(c) (Records).  Parties to proceedings before the BIA may make arrangements by calling the Clerk’s Office. Appendix A (Directory); BIA PM, Chapter 1.5(e) (Records).  Parties may review all portions of the record that are not prohibited (e.g., classified information, documents under a protective order).  EOIR prohibits the removal of official records by parties or other persons from EOIR-controlled space.  For information about obtaining copies of the records, see Additional Reference Materials, Chapter 1.5(d)(3) (Copies of the Record) (below).

          (2) Non-parties - Persons or entities who are not party to a proceeding must file a request for information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the EOIR Office of General Counsel in order to inspect the record.  See Additional Reference Materials, Chapter 9 (Requesting Records).

          (3) Copies of the record

               (A) Parties - Both the Board and the immigration courts will provide copies of the official records of proceedings to parties and their representatives of record upon request.  A FOIA request is not required.  Parties may obtain a copy of all portions of the record that are not prohibited (e.g., classified information, documents under a protective order).  Requests for copies of the official record of proceedings may be made to the immigration courts or Board, in person, by mail, or via email.  To request a copy from an immigration court, email the individual immigration court using "EOIR.xyz.ROP.Requests@usdoj.gov" as discussed above in Additional Reference Materials, Chapter 1.5(d)(1) (Parties).  To request a copy from the BIA, email "EOIR.BIA.ROP.Requests@usdoj.gov".  Neither the immigration courts nor the Board provide self-service copying.  Alternatively, the parties can file a request for information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with the EOIR Office of the General Counsel.  See Additional Reference Materials, Chapter 9 (Requesting Records).

               (B) Audio recordings - Immigration judges previously recorded immigration court hearings on cassette tapes and now record immigration court hearings digitally.  The court will provide a copy of the hearing recording in digital format at the request of a party.

               (C) Non-parties - Neither the immigration courts nor the Board Clerk’s Office will provide non-parties with copies of any official record, whether in whole or in part.  Non-parties must file a request for information under FOIA.  See Additional Reference Materials, Chapter 9 (Requesting Records).

               (D) Confidentiality - EOIR must balance the public’s need for information with the protection of persons who appear before the immigration courts and the Board.  Both the immigration courts and the Board take special precautions to ensure the confidentiality of cases involving applicants for asylum, for withholding of removal under INA § 241(b)(3), and for relief under the Convention Against Torture; reasonable fear proceedings; battered noncitizen spouses and children; exclusion proceedings; classified information; and information subject to a protective order.  See, e.g., 8 C.F.R. § 1003.27(c); see also ICPM, Chapter 4.9 (Public Access), BIA PM, Chapter 8.5 (Public Access).

EOIR takes steps to identify records of proceedings involving battered spouses or children to prevent unauthorized disclosure. EOIR keeps all records of proceedings involving battered spouses closed to the public unless the battered spouse authorizes the disclosure, and all records of proceedings involving battered children are always excluded from disclosure.  See 8 C.F.R. § 1003.27(c).


[1] Department of Justice employees who, without authorization, willfully use or disclose information related to proceedings involving a battered spouse or child to anyone (other than a sworn officer or employee of the Department of Justice for legitimate Department purposes) may be subject to disciplinary action and a civil money penalty of up to $5,000.  INA § 384(c), 8 U.S.C. § 1367(c).