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Chapter 1 - The Immigration Court

1.3 - Composition of the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge

(a) General 

The Office of the Chief Immigration Judge (OCIJ) supervises and directs the activities of the immigration courts.  OCIJ operates under the supervision of the Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).  OCIJ develops operating policies for the immigration courts, oversees policy implementation, evaluates the performance of the immigration courts, and provides overall supervision of the immigration judges.

        (1) Chief Immigration Judge - The Chief Immigration Judge (CIJ) oversees the administration of the immigration courts nationwide.

        (2) Principal Deputy Chief Immigration Judge - The Principal Deputy Chief Immigration Judge (PDCIJ) assists the CIJ in overseeing the administration of the immigration courts throughout the country and supervises the Regional Deputy Chief Immigration Judges.

        (3) Regional Deputy Chief Immigration Judges - The Regional Deputy Chief Immigration Judges (RDCIJs) assist the PDCIJ in carrying out the responsibilities of that office and are responsible for daily supervision of the Assistant Chief Immigration Judges (ACIJs) within the RDCIJs’ assigned geographical regions.

         (4) Assistant Chief Immigration Judges - The ACIJs oversee the operations of specific immigration courts.  A listing of the immigration courts overseen by each ACIJ and assigned areas of responsibility is available on the EOIR website.

         (5) Legal Staff: Chief Counsel and Attorney Advisors/Judicial Law Clerks - OCIJ has a sizable legal staff, which includes a chief counsel, attorneys at the OCIJ headquarters, and permanent and term attorney advisors and judicial law clerks (JLCs) at the immigration courts nationwide.  The legal staff supports the CIJ, PDCIJ, RDCIJs, ACIJs, and immigration judges.

          (6) Language Services Unit - The Language Services Unit (LSU) oversees staff interpreters and contract interpreters at the immigration courts.  The LSU conducts quality assurance programs for all interpreters.

(b) Immigration Courts - EOIR employs immigration judges and professional staff in the immigration courts nationwide.  As a general matter, immigration judges determine removability and adjudicate applications for relief or protection from removal.  For the specific duties of immigration judges, see Chapter 1.4 (Jurisdiction and Authority).  Immigration judge decisions are final unless timely appealed or certified to the BIA.  See Chapter 6 (Appeals of Immigration Judge Decisions). 

Court administrators are assigned to the local office of each immigration court.  Under the supervision of an Assistant Chief Immigration Judge, the court administrator manages the daily activities of the immigration court and supervises staff interpreters, legal assistants, and clerical and technical employees.

In each immigration court, the court administrator serves as the liaison with the local office of the Department of Homeland Security, the private bar, and nonprofit organizations that represent noncitizens.

A listing of the immigration courts is available on the EOIR website.

(c) Immigration Judge Conduct and Professionalism

Immigration judges strive to act honorably, fairly, and in accordance with the highest ethical standards, thereby ensuring public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of immigration court proceedings.  Alleged misconduct by immigration judges is taken seriously by the Department of Justice and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), especially if it impugns the integrity of the hearing process.

Usually, when a disagreement arises with an immigration judge’s ruling, the disagreement is properly raised in a motion to the immigration judge or an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals.  When a party has an immediate concern regarding an immigration judge’s conduct that is not appropriate for a motion or appeal, the concern may be raised with the Assistant Chief Immigration Judge (ACIJ) responsible for the court.  Contact information for ACIJs is available on the EOIR website.

In the alternative, parties may raise concerns regarding an immigration judge’s conduct directly with the Office of the Director by following the procedures outlined on the EOIR website or by sending an email to:  Where appropriate, concerns may also be raised with the Department of Justice, Office of Professional Responsibility.  All concerns, and any actions taken, may be considered confidential and not subject to disclosure.