After months of closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Denver Immigration Court began holding hearings on its non-detained docket on September 14, 2020. For now, the court is only holding individual (final) hearings, not master calendar (preliminary) hearings. Many of the people who had hearings cancelled during the COVID-19 shutdown have yet to receive a rescheduled hearing date.
When master calendar hearings resume, noncitizens who have lawyers will be able to appear by telephone under the currently effective standing order. However, please check with your attorney before assuming that you will not have to attend a court hearing in person. Current procedures are subject to change and the Denver Immigration Court could institute a new policy at any time.
While some individual hearings are going forward now, many are also being postponed as the court tries to limit the number of people in the building on any given day. In addition, the standing order imposes new limits on witnesses who can testify in person during an individual hearing. Again, it is important to check with you attorney in the leadup to any hearing to make sure you understand how the COVID-19-related restrictions may impact the plan for your case.
The Denver Immigration Court is open but many other non-detained immigration courts around the country remain closed. With COVID-19 numbers growing in Colorado, it is unclear if the Denver Immigration Court will again consider shutting its doors. What is clear is that the already astronomical backlog of cases will only grow due to the court’s limited capacity during the pandemic.
It is important to know that some applications can be adversely affected by the passage of time. For example, cancellation of removal applications require that any children who will be used as qualifying relatives be under the age of 21. A child turning 21, even if due to court delay beyond the applicant’s control, can have disastrous consequences. If you have a time-sensitive case before the court, immediate action may be required. To schedule a consultation to discuss your immigration court case with the attorneys at Joseph & Hall, call our office at 303-297-9171.
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