Original Date AnnouncedNovember 6, 2020
The EOIR Director issues Policy Memo 21-03, updating agency guidance on telephonic and video teleconference (VTC) hearings. Touting the success of VTC, the Director's policy memo underscores that immigration judges are free to "exercise their independent judgment and discretion" on whether to conduct proceedings by telephone or video-teleconference, subject to applicable law."
With respect to VTC hearings, the memo reiterates that that VTC "may be used for any immigration court hearing, particularly when operational need calls for its usage." The memo also endorses the use of Webex to allow respondents and representatives to appear from locations outside the court.
With respect to telephonic hearings, the memo reinforces that appearances by the non-citizen and/or representatives "are generally subject to the discretion of the immigration judge, any applicable law, and any applicable requirements of the Immigration Court Practice Manual (ICPM), a standing order, or a local operating procedure."
The memo generically instructs immigration judges to refer to "applicable circuit precedent" to resolve choice of law issues when the immigration judge and/or the parties are situated in different Federal circuits. (The memo notes that rulemaking on VTC and choice of law issues is still pending.)
Notably, the Director's policy memo provides fewer administrative instructions than the preceding instructions from the Chief Immigration Judge on the conduct of telephonic and VTC hearings.
[ID# 1136]Immigration Court Hearings Conducted by Telephone and Video Teleconferencing
Effective DateNovember 6, 2020