If you don’t appear at a scheduled removal hearing, the Immigration Judge will enter an order that says you will be removed in absentia. This occurs often even when you did not know about the hearing. Therefore if you are ever caught by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office, or if you apply for an immigration benefit, you could be taken into custody and deported. Additionally, an Order of Removal in absentia makes you ineligible for a number of forms of relief from removal, such as voluntary departure, cancellation of removal, and adjustment or change of status, for a ten year period from the date of the removal order.
Under certain circumstances, you can request that the Court reopen your case so that you can apply for certain immigration benefits. If you are successful, you will have a new hearing before the Immigration Court and can apply for whatever form of relief you are eligible.
You can file a Motion to Reopen under the following circumstances:
1. You never received the Notice to Appear (NTA) which gave you the date and time of your hearing
2. You knew of the hearing, but you did not appear due to exceptional circumstances (You must file the Motion within 180 days under this scenario)
After your Motion to Reopen is filed, you will receive an automatic stay of your deportation until the Immigration Judge renders a decision on your motion. Thus, you cannot be removed from the United States unless the judge denies your Motion to Reopen. There are not any time restrictions for filing a Motion to Reopen if you did not receive proper notice. However the burden is on the Respondent to show that the notice was not provided. This is sometimes the difficult part to prove by the Respondent, however there are several exceptions that may be available to you.