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Video Hearings in Immigration Court

Beginning in the mid-1990s, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) began using video hearing equipment in immigration courts across the country.  As a result, frequently a noncitizen facing removal is deprived of the opportunity to appear in person before an immigration judge.  Video hearings are more common where a noncitizen is detained, though many non-detained individuals are subjected to video hearings as well.  EOIR uses video hearings for both preliminary hearings (“master calendar hearings”) and merits hearings (“individual hearings”).

FOIA l Advocacy l Resources


In February 2012, the American Immigration Council submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to EOIR asking for records related to video teleconferencing (VTC).  EOIR produced two sets of records.

First Production (November 23, 2012)

            Index of First Production

Second Production (January 30, 2013)

            Index of Second Production


Comments to the Department of Justice/Executive Office for Immigration Review regarding the “Retrospective Regulatory Review” (submitted Nov. 27, 2012). The Council, in collaboration with AILA, inter alia, urged EOIR to amend regulations pertaining to telephonic and video hearings (see page 4).

Comments on the Immigration Adjudication Draft Report by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) (submitted February 13, 2012). The Council commented on several issues addressed by the draft report, including video hearings (see page 4). Read ACUS’s draft report and the final recommendations, including that EOIR should consider more systemic assessments of the use of video hearings.


Objecting to Video Merits Hearings (December 12, 2003). This Practice Advisory discusses the problems arising from the use of video hearings in immigration cases, particularly those in which the respondent’s credibility is at issue. The Advisory highlights ways to protect the respondent’s rights and move for in-person hearings where that strategy is beneficial.