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Immigration law attorneys may no longer benefit from continuances

Under some new guidance from the current U.S. presidential administration, there may be less time for immigration attorneys in New York to prepare their cases. At the end of July, the U.S. Justice Department released a memo to all U.S. immigration law judges, encouraging them to avoid granting so many continuances. A continuance is a delay in court proceedings that is fairly routine.

The purpose of continuances is that they essentially slow down the justice system while still making sure that both sides are able to make the best cases they can in court. However, according to the justice department, granting several long continuances has caused a delay. This has reportedly made the problem of already crowded immigration dockets even worse.

Since the year 2011, the quantity of pending cases related to immigration has doubled, now reaching around 600,000. As a result, it can easily take around two years before a case is finally completed. The number of continuances granted rose by 23 percent from fiscal year 2006 to fiscal year 2015, which has only exacerbated these wait times. In light of this, the justice department is now urging immigration judges to avoid granting continuances automatically or routinely unless a strong case law basis or good cause is demonstrated.

Immigrants in New York who lack the necessary documentation but are interested in becoming U.S. citizens may find it frustrating and confusing to navigate the multi-step process. The current backlog in the system only adds salt to the proverbial wound. However, a qualified immigration law attorney can help one to complete each step of the process confidently, even in a climate where the granting of continuances may soon be on the decline.

Source:, "Undocumented Immigrants May Get Less Time to Make Their Case", Tessa Berenson, Aug. 16, 2017

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