My immigration court case has been “dismissed.” What are the implications of this decision?
The consequences of dismissal of the case in the immigration court
Every year, the U.S. government decides to “dismiss” thousands of immigration court cases for immigrants across the country. Many asylum seekers receive phone calls or learn during an immigration court hearing that the government wants to dismiss (or close) their cases. Most of the dismissed cases belong to people who had arrived in the United States before November 2020.
The origin of these dismissals can be traced back to an April 3, 2022 memorandum issued by the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA), under the guidance of Kerry E. Doyle (referred to as the “Doyle Memo”). This memorandum granted ICE attorneys the authority to exercise prosecutorial discretion when handling cases involving noncitizens who do not fall under enforcement priorities, as outlined in the earlier Mayorkas memo.
The primary objective of the ICE prosecuting attorney, according to the Doyle memo, was to seek justice rather than merely aiming to remove the noncitizen. In line with this goal, the ICE attorney’s role as the government’s representative in removal proceedings was to proactively inform the immigration judge about potentially decisive legal matters and viable relief options they had identified.
For many asylum seekers in immigration court, it could be good news that their case was dismissed. It means that the government is no longer trying to deport them, and they are ending their case in immigration court.
If an individual applied for asylum in immigration court and their case was dismissed, their asylum case has also ended without a final decision. But if they want to continue seeking asylum, they can still apply with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If you have a removal order, one advantage of a grant of dismissal is that it will cancel out the removal order. So, if you will be apprehended in the future, then you will have an opportunity to seek relief again rather than automatically be detained and removed.
What will happen to my work permit?
The answer depends on the status of their work permit when their immigration court case was dismissed. The information below applies to people whose work permits are based on seeking asylum.
- If their work permit is still valid, they can continue to use it until the expiration date, even after their immigration court case is dismissed. However, unfortunately, they will not be able to renew their work permit after their immigration court case is dismissed. They should be able to apply for a work permit again if they submit another asylum application to USCIS. Read more below! If their immigration case has not been dismissed yet, they can still submit a renewal work permit application.
- If their work permit has expired, they can still use it only if they already submitted a renewal work permit application before their immigration court case was dismissed.
- If they applied to renew their work permit before their immigration court case was dismissed and before their work permit expired, they can still use the work permit for 540 days after the expiration date.
- If they DID NOT apply to renew their work permit before their immigration court case was dismissed, they will not be able to renew the work permit. They should be able to apply for a work permit again if they submit another asylum application to USCIS. Read more below.
It’s essential to understand the specifics of their situation and take appropriate steps to ensure their work authorization remains valid if necessary. Always consult with legal professionals to address any uncertainties and to guide them through the process of seeking asylum or renewing their work permit.
Dismissal of your immigration case could lead to severe consequences.
What will be the outcome for my asylum case?
If your asylum application in immigration court was dismissed, your asylum case has concluded without a final decision. Your subsequent actions will depend on whether you wish to pursue asylum further or not.
- If you do NOT wish to continue seeking asylum, there is no need for you to take any immediate action. However, it might be beneficial to consult with an attorney to explore if you qualify for other immigration status.
- If you DO want to continue seeking asylum, it is crucial to submit a new asylum application to USCIS promptly! Even if you had previously submitted an application to the immigration court, you must initiate the process again by sending a new asylum application to USCIS. This new application will now facilitate the process of seeking asylum with USCIS instead of the immigration court.
- If you are uncertain about whether to continue seeking asylum with USCIS, you can refer to this post for more information or seek guidance from an attorney to understand and evaluate your options. Legal assistance can be found here.
What is a deadline for a new asylum application with USCIS?
If you choose to seek asylum with USCIS following the dismissal of your immigration court case, it is crucial to submit your asylum application as soon as possible.
- If you have already submitted your asylum application to the immigration court, you should promptly file a new application with USCIS. Waiting too long could risk USCIS considering your application as late. The specific timeframe that USCIS may deem as “too late” is uncertain, so it is best to act promptly and submit your application without delay.
- If you had not previously submitted an asylum application before your immigration court case was dismissed, it is recommended to file your application with USCIS within one year of arriving in the United States. This timeline is important as it ensures that you meet USCIS’s requirements for timely submission of asylum applications.
In both cases, submitting your asylum application to USCIS promptly is essential to ensure your case is processed efficiently and to enhance your chances of a favorable outcome.
How do I submit my asylum application if I decide to seek asylum with USCIS?
If you have made the decision to seek asylum with USCIS after your immigration court case is dismissed, follow these steps to submit your asylum application (Form I-589) to USCIS:
- Include a letter explaining that you previously had an immigration court case, which has now been dismissed.
- Depending on your chosen shipping method, send your completed application and letter to one of the special mailing addresses provided below:
For applications sent via the United States Postal Service (USPS), use the following address:
USCIS Asylum Vetting Center
P.O. Box 57100
If you prefer to use FedEx, UPS, or DHL for shipping, use the following address:
DHS-USCIS Asylum Vetting Center
401 W. Peachtree St. NW, Suite 1000
Atlanta, GA 30308
By following these instructions, you can ensure that your asylum application is properly submitted to USCIS for processing.
If I submit a new asylum application to USCIS, am I eligible to apply for a new work permit?
Yes, if you decide to submit a new asylum application to USCIS, you should be eligible to apply for a work permit again. However, it is important to note that USCIS has not yet provided clear instructions on how to do this. The ASAP (Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project) has communicated this issue to USCIS, and they will update their page with more information if any further details are received.
As of now, here is the best information available:
For all asylum seekers: After submitting your new asylum application to USCIS, you can wait for 150 days and then apply for a new initial work permit with USCIS. You should be able to submit this new application without any filing fee, even if you had a work permit before your case was dismissed.
For asylum seekers whose current work permit has not expired: You have the option to apply for a work permit renewal immediately after submitting your new asylum application to USCIS. The renewal application costs $410, or you may attempt to request a fee waiver.
If you apply for a renewal before your current work permit expires, you should receive a receipt notice from USCIS that automatically extends your work permit for 540 days. This notice typically arrives within about 30 days after you apply for the renewal. This extension will allow you to continue using your current work permit while waiting for a decision on your renewal work permit application, which may take several months.
However, it is important to be aware that your renewal work permit application could still be denied. Therefore, if you choose to apply for a work permit renewal immediately, we recommend also submitting a new initial work permit application after waiting for 150 days.
If you have any questions, you can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please keep in mind that this information is not a substitute for legal advice from an attorney.