The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) was created on January 9, 1983. EOIR consists of the Office of the Director, the Board of Immigration Appeals (Board), the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge (OCIJ), and the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO). EOIR is independent of the immigration enforcement functions of both the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices, the entity charged with the enforcement of the anti-discrimination provisions of immigration law.
EOIR is responsible for adjudicating immigration cases. Specifically, under delegated authority from the Attorney General, EOIR interprets and administers federal immigration laws by conducting immigration court proceedings, appellate reviews, and administrative hearings. EOIR consists of three components: the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge, which is responsible for managing the numerous Immigration Courts located throughout the United States, where Immigration Judges adjudicate individual cases; the Board of Immigration Appeals, which primarily conducts appellate reviews of Immigration Judge decisions; and the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer, which adjudicates immigration-related employment cases. EOIR is committed to providing fair, expeditious, and uniform application of the nation's immigration laws in all cases.
Office of the Chief Immigration Judge
BACKGROUND: OCIJ was established under the new EOIR in February 1983 under 8 C.F.R. Part 3 (see also 28 C.F.R. Part O, Subpart U).
FUNCTIONS: OCIJ is headed by the Chief Immigration Judge, who is supported by two Deputy Chief Immigration Judges and a number of Assistant Chief Immigration Judges. OCIJ provides overall program direction, articulates policies and procedures, and establishes priorities for more than 200 United States Immigration Judges located in 53 Immigration Courts throughout the Nation. Immigration Judges are responsible for conducting formal proceedings and act independently in their decision-making capacity. Their decisions are administratively final unless appealed or certified to the Board. In removal proceedings, Immigration Judges determine whether an individual arriving from a foreign country should be allowed to enter the United States or should be removed. Each Judge has jurisdiction to consider various forms of relief available in removal proceedings. Immigration Judges also have jurisdiction over deportation and exclusion proceedings initiated prior to April 1, 1997.
If deportability or inadmissibility is proven, the Immigration Judge will then focus on the type of relief from removal that may be available to the alien. These forms of relief include asylum, cancellation of removal, adjustment of status, and voluntary departure.
Through its Criminal Alien Institutional Hearing Program, OCIJ currently has programs in place throughout the country to adjudicate the immigration status of alien inmates prior to their release from federal, state, or municipal correctional facilities.
Board of Immigration Appeals
BACKGROUND: The Board was established on August 30, 1940, under 8 C.F.R. § 90.2. The Board’s authority is currently set forth at 8 C.F.R. § 1003.1.
FUNCTIONS: The Board is the highest administrative body for interpreting and applying immigration laws. The Board is composed of 11 Board Members, including the Chairman and up to two Vice-Chairmen. The Board is located in Falls Church, Virginia, where it conducts all appellate reviews and hears most oral arguments. In September 2002, a regulation restructuring the Board became effective. The regulation was designed to allow the agency to allocate its limited resources to manage an increasing case load while continuing to exercise its delegated independent judgment in adjudicating matters before it.
The Board has been given nationwide jurisdiction to hear appeals from certain decisions rendered by Immigration Judges and by immigration officials of DHS in a wide variety of proceedings involving the United States and either an alien, a citizen, or a business firm. In addition, the Board is responsible for recognition of organizations and accreditation of representatives requesting permission to practice before DHS, the Immigration Courts, and the Board.
Decisions of the Board are binding on all DHS immigration officials and Immigration Judges unless modified or overruled by the Attorney General or a federal court. In most cases, the Board’s decisions are subject to judicial review in the federal courts. The majority of appeals reaching the Board involve orders of removal and applications for relief from removal. Other cases before the Board include the exclusion of aliens applying for admission to the United States, petitions to classify the status of alien relatives for the issuance of preference immigrant visas, fines imposed upon carriers for the violation of immigration laws, and motions for reopening and reconsideration of decisions previously rendered.
In addition, the Board provides guidance to practitioners in the immigration field, including Immigration Judges, DHS, and private attorneys and alien representatives, through the publication of decisions of precedential value. These decisions appear in bound volumes entitled Administrative Decisions Under Immigration and Nationality Laws of the United States, and are also available electronically at the Board’s “Virtual Law Library,” along with the Board’s Practice Manual and Questions and Answers Regarding Proceedings.
Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer
BACKGROUND: OCAHO was established by the Attorney General pursuant to the provisions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986. The Attorney General added OCAHO to the functions of EOIR in March 1987.
FUNCTIONS: OCAHO is headed by a Chief Administrative Hearing Officer, who is responsible for the general supervision and management of the administrative law judges who preside at hearings mandated by IRCA and the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 (INA). Administrative law judges hear cases and adjudicate issues arising under the provisions of the INA relating to (1) unlawful hiring, recruiting, referring for a fee, and continued employment of unauthorized aliens, and failure to comply with employment verification requirements, (2) immigration-related document fraud, and (3) immigration-related unfair employment practices. Complaints are brought by DHS immigration officials, 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 Procedure Act. Employer sanctions and document fraud cases are subject to administrative review by the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer and the Attorney General. All final agency decisions are subject to review in federal courts.
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