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Chapter 2 - Appearances Before the Immigration Court

2.9 - Others

(a) Reputable Individuals — Reputable individuals are practitioners who may appear before the immigration court if certain conditions are met and the appearance is approved by the immigration judge.  Recognition by the immigration court is not automatic and should be requested in writing.  See 8 C.F.R. § 1292.1(a)(3).  

(1) Qualifications To qualify as a reputable individual and be permitted to appear, an individual must meet all of the following criteria, as found by an immigration judge in discretion:

  • be a person of good moral character
  • appear on an individual basis, at the request of the respondent
  • receive no direct or indirect remuneration for their assistance of the respondent
  • file a declaration that they are not being remunerated for their assistance of the respondent
  • have a preexisting relationship with the respondent (e.g., relative, neighbor, clergy), except in those situations where representation would otherwise not be available
  • be officially recognized by the immigration court.

Any individual who receives any sort of compensation or makes immigration appearances on a regular basis (such as a non-lawyer “immigration specialist,” “visa consultant,” or “notario”) or holds themself out to the public as qualified to do so does not qualify as a “reputable individual” as defined in the regulations.

(2) Appearances A reputable individual must complete the proper form, Form EOIR-28 or Form EOIR-61, and otherwise comply with the instructions below to make an appearance before the immigration court.  If information is omitted from Form EOIR-28 or Form EOIR-61, they are not properly completed, or the instructions below are not followed, the reputable individual's appearance may not be recognized, and any accompanying filing may be rejected. 

(A) Form EOIR-28 appearance — A reputable individual is not permitted to register with the Executive Office for Immigration Review and, therefore, cannot electronically file documents, including Form EOIR-28.  See Chapter 2.1(b)(1) (Entering Appearance as Practitioner of Record).  Accordingly, to appear as the practitioner of record, a reputable individual must paper file a Form EOIR-28.  Together with that Form EOIR-28, the reputable individual should include a statement demonstrating that the individual satisfies the qualification criteria in (a)(1) above. 

(B) Form EOIR-61 limited appearance for document assistance — Because of the limited circumstances in which a reputable individual is permitted to appear, a reputable individual should seek to appear as the practitioner of record through the filing of a Form EOIR-28.  However, If the reputable individual has not filed a Form EOIR-28 as discussed above, and the reputable individual provides assistance to pro se respondents with the drafting, completion, or filling in of blank spaces of a specific motion, brief, form, or other document or set of documents intended to be filed with the immigration court, the reputable individual must disclose such assistance by completing Form EOIR-61, which must be filed along with the assisted document or set of documents.  See 8 C.F.R. 1003.17(b); Chapter 2.2(c) (Limited Appearance for Document Assistance).  Additionally, as above, the reputable individual’s Form EOIR-61 must be accompanied by a statement from the reputable individual demonstrating that the individual satisifies the qualification criteria in section (a)(1) above. 

          (b) Fellow Inmates — The regulations do not provide for representation or appearances, including limited appearances for document assistance, by fellow inmates or other detained persons.  Fellow inmates are not practitioners under the regulations.

          (c) Accredited Officials of Foreign Governments — An accredited official of a foreign government to which the respondent owes an allegiance and who is in the United States may appear before the immigration court as a practitioner if the appearance is in their official capacity and with the respondent’s consent.  See 8 C.F.R. § 1292.1(a)(5).  

An accredited official must complete the proper form, Form EOIR-28 or Form EOIR-61, and otherwise comply with the instructions below to make an appearance before the immigration court.  If information is omitted from Form EOIR-28 or Form EOIR-61, they are not properly completed, or the instructions below are not followed, the accredited official's appearance may not be recognized, and any accompanying filing may be rejected. 

(1) Form EOIR-28 appearance — An accredited official is not permitted to register with the Executive Office for Immigration Review and, therefore, cannot electronically file documents, including Form EOIR-28.  See Chapter 2.1(b)(1) (Entering Appearance as Practitioner of Record).  Accordingly, to appear as the practitioner of record, an accredited official  must paper file Form EOIR-28.   

(2) Form EOIR-61 limited appearance for document assistance — Because of the limited circumstances in which an accredited official is permitted to appear, an accredited official should seek to appear as the practitioner of record through the filing of Form EOIR-28.  However, If the accredited official has not filed a Form EOIR-28 as discussed above and the accredited official provides assistance to pro se respondents with the drafting, completion, or filling in of blank spaces of a specific motion, brief, form, or other document or set of documents intended to be filed with the immigration court, the accredited official must disclose such assistance by completing Form EOIR-61, which must be filed along with the assisted document or set of documents.  See 8 C.F.R. 1003.17(b); Chapter 2.2(c) (Limited Appearance for Document Assistance).  Additionally, the accredited official’s Form EOIR-61 must be accompanied by evidence that the appearance is in an official capacity and that the respondent consented to the appearance.    

          (d) Former Employees of the Department of Justice — Former employees of the Department of Justice may be restricted in their ability to appear before the immigration court.  See 8 C.F.R. § 1292.1(c).

          (e) Foreign Student Advisors — Foreign student advisors, including “Designated School Officials,” are not practitioners and are not authorized to appear before the immigration court, unless the advisor is an accredited representative.  See Chapter 2.4 (Accredited Representatives and Recognized Organizations).