COVID-19 Pushes Immigration Courts into the 21st Century

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On March 31, 2020, The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) announced that it had established temporary email accounts for immigration courts nationwide to facilitate electronic filing for all parties while the rollout of the EOIR Court and Appeals System (ECAS) is delayed due to COVID-19.

Those who have already opted-in to ECAS should continue to use ECAS where it is available. Others who wish to utilize electronic filing may file through email, as instructed below.

The EOIR Courts & Appeals System (ECAS) is a part of the overarching information technology modernization initiative further to enable the timely and fair adjudication of immigration cases. The goal is to phase out paper filing and processing while retaining all records and case-related documents in electronic format. 

While extending the option for individuals to email case related documents may seem menial, it is, in fact, a huge step forward and into the digital age. Currently, ECAS is in the initial phase and only allows registered users at courts where ECAS is available to file Notice to Appear (NTA) data electronically, view an eROP, case details, and find out whether documents have been accepted or rejected by EOIR via the DHS Portal. The eRegistry, eFiling and eInfo portions of the platform are only available to attorneys and accredited representatives. 

While ECAS is being rolled out, extending the ability to digitally file via email is significant, giving individuals the ability to upload case documents during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully, the full system will be available to the public in the near future.

Guidelines for Submitting Case Documents 

Failure to follow the guidelines listed below may result in the rejection of your submitted document filing. If your submission is rejected, you will be notified by email with a request to correct the issue and refile the document.

  • The nature of the filing must be in the subject of your email.
    The subject line must include the alien registration number, the date of the next hearing, and the initials of the immigration judge assigned to the case.
    • Example: A filer of a motion to continue with a case with alien registration number 012345678 and a hearing date on 01/02/2021 would input,
      “Motion to Continue – 012345678 – 01/02/2021” in the subject line of the email.
      If the filer knows the hearing is scheduled before Judge William A. Jones, the subject would be, “Motion to Continue – 012345678 – 01/02/2021 – WAJ”
  • Filers may include multiple documents for the same case to be submitted in one email, but not combine separate submissions into one file. Each document type must be submitted individually within the email and include the filing type in the file name.
  • The filer remains responsible for service on the opposing party.
  • Certificate of service must be submitted with every filing in the same email.
  • The Immigration Court Practice Manual outlines the requirements that must be met for All electronically-filed documents. Further, an electronically filed document cannot be larger than 25 megabytes (MB).

    For submissions that would be larger than 25 MB, please follow the below steps:
    • split the document into multiple files, so no single portion is larger than 25 MB;
    • name each document so that it is clear they should be matched with the other portions.
      Example: 5678_1234ABC_Brief_Part1; 5678_1234ABC_Brief_Part2
  • Files must be a minimum resolution of 300dpi.
  • File formats accepted are PDF and JPEG. No other file formats will be accepted.
  • Do not include links to non-EOIR websites in your submissions.
  • Filings with more than one page must include page numbers.
  • If scanning and attaching a document, pages must appear right-side-up.
    • The filing party must maintain the originals of any documents that are electronically filed and must make the originals available for production if so ordered, or for inspection upon request by a party.

Attorneys and fully-accredited representatives, if you have opted-in to ECAS, do not use email in lieu of filing through ECAS.

If you are an attorney or fully accredited representative who has not opted-in to ECAS:

  • Name your file with the last four digits of your client’s alien registration number, your EOIR ID, and the type of filing.
    • Example: Attorney Johnson, EOIRID 1234ABC, with client 012345678, filing an asylum application would name the document: “5678_1234ABC_AsylumApplication”

Respondents

  • Name your file with the last four digits of your alien registration number, your last name, and the type of filing.
  • Example: Jane Smith, alien registration number 876543210, filing a motion to expedite, would name the document:
    “3210_Smith_MotionToExpedite”
  • Example: Submitting an asylum application and country conditions evidence, attach the application with the file name
    “5678_1234ABC_AsylumApplication” in one file and the 
    country conditions with the file name
    “5678_1234ABC_CountryConditions”  

For a complete list of Immigration Court email addresses for filing, please visit: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/filing-email.

Please note EOIR cannot provide technical support or confirm receipt of filings at this time. If you have questions, please contact the EOIR Office of Policy, Communications and Legislative Affairs Division at PAO.EOIR@usdoj.gov.

About the Author Jon Velie

About the author: Jon Velie has practiced Immigration law since 1993. He is CEO of OnlineVisas.com., the intelligent Immigration platform. Jon is an Amazon number one best-selling author of H1B Visa: Application & Approval, is regularly covered by major media and has won a number of international awards. Jon can be contacted at jon@onlinevisas.com or 405-310-4333 office or 405-821-5959 mobile.

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