U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Jul 13, 2024

§ 1003.101 - General provisions.

(a) Authority to sanction. An adjudicating official or the Board of Immigration Appeals (the Board) may impose disciplinary sanctions against any practitioner if it finds it to be in the public interest to do so. It will be in the public interest to impose disciplinary sanctions against a practitioner who is authorized to practice before the Board and the Immigration Courts when such person has engaged in criminal, unethical, or unprofessional conduct, or in frivolous behavior, as set forth in § 1003.102. In accordance with the disciplinary proceedings set forth in this subpart and outlined below, an adjudicating official or the Board may impose any of the following disciplinary sanctions:

(1) Disbarment, which is permanent, from practice before the Board and the Immigration Courts or the DHS, or before all three authorities;

(2) Suspension, including immediate suspension, from practice before the Board and the Immigration Courts or the DHS, or before all three authorities;

(3) Public or private censure; or

(4) Such other disciplinary sanctions as the adjudicating official or the Board deems appropriate.

(b) Persons subject to sanctions. Persons subject to sanctions include any practitioner. Attorneys employed by the Department of Justice shall be subject to discipline pursuant to § 1003.109. Nothing in this regulation shall be construed as authorizing persons who do not meet the definition of practitioner to represent individuals before the Board and the immigration courts or the DHS.

(c) The administrative termination of a representative's accreditation under 8 CFR 1292.17 after the issuance of a Notice of Intent to Discipline pursuant to § 1003.105(a)(1) shall not preclude the continuation of disciplinary proceedings and the imposition of sanctions, unless counsel for the government moves to withdraw the Notice of Intent to Discipline and the adjudicating official or the Board grants the motion.

[65 FR 39526, June 27, 2000, as amended at 73 FR 76923, Dec. 18, 2008; 77 FR 2014, Jan. 13, 2012; 81 FR 92362, Dec. 19, 2016; 87 FR 56259, Sept. 14, 2022]

§ 1003.102 - Grounds.

It is deemed to be in the public interest for an adjudicating official or the Board to impose disciplinary sanctions against any practitioner who falls within one or more of the categories enumerated in this section, but these categories do not constitute the exclusive grounds for which disciplinary sanctions may be imposed in the public interest. Nothing in this regulation should be read to denigrate the practitioner's duty to represent zealously his or her client within the bounds of the law. A practitioner who falls within one of the following categories shall be subject to disciplinary sanctions in the public interest if he or she:

(a) Charges or receives, either directly or indirectly:

(1) In the case of an attorney, any fee or compensation for specific services rendered for any person that shall be deemed to be grossly excessive. The factors to be considered in determining whether a fee or compensation is grossly excessive include the following: The time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly; the likelihood, if apparent to the client, that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the attorney; the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services; the amount involved and the results obtained; the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances; the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client; and the experience, reputation, and ability of the attorney or attorneys performing the services,

(2) In the case of an accredited representative as defined in § 1292.1(a)(4) of this chapter, any fee or compensation for specific services rendered for any person, except that an accredited representative may be regularly compensated by the organization of which he or she is an accredited representative, or

(3) In the case of a law student or law graduate as defined in § 1292.1(a)(2) of this chapter, any fee or compensation for specific services rendered for any person, except that a law student or law graduate may be regularly compensated by the organization or firm with which he or she is associated as long as he or she is appearing without direct or indirect remuneration from the client he or she represents;

(b) Bribes, attempts to bribe, coerces, or attempts to coerce, by any means whatsoever, any person (including a party to a case or an officer or employee of the Department of Justice) to commit any act or to refrain from performing any act in connection with any case;

(c) Knowingly or with reckless disregard makes a false statement of material fact or law, or willfully misleads, misinforms, threatens, or deceives any person (including a party to a case or an officer or employee of the Department of Justice), concerning any material and relevant matter relating to a case, including knowingly or with reckless disregard offering false evidence. If a practitioner has offered material evidence and comes to know of its falsity, the practitioner shall take appropriate remedial measures;

(d) Solicits professional employment, through in-person or live telephone contact or through the use of runners, from a prospective client with whom the practitioner has no family or prior professional relationship, when a significant motive for the practitioner's doing so is the practitioner's pecuniary gain. If the practitioner has no family or prior professional relationship with the prospective client known to be in need of legal services in a particular matter, the practitioner must include the words “Advertising Material” on the outside of the envelope of any written communication and at the beginning and ending of any recorded communication. Such advertising material or similar solicitation documents may not be distributed by any person in or around the premises of any building in which an immigration court is located;

(e) Is subject to a final order of disbarment or suspension, or has resigned while a disciplinary investigation or proceeding is pending;

(f) Knowingly or with reckless disregard makes a false or misleading communication about his or her qualifications or services. A communication is false or misleading if it:

(1) Contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading, or,

(2) Contains an assertion about the practitioner or the practitioner's qualifications or services that cannot be substantiated. A practitioner shall not state or imply that the practitioner has been recognized or certified as a specialist in immigration or nationality law unless such certification is granted by the appropriate State regulatory authority or by an organization that has been approved by the appropriate State regulatory authority to grant such certification. An accredited representative shall not state or imply that the accredited representative:

(i) Is approved to practice before the immigration courts or the Board, if the representative is only approved as an accredited representative before DHS;

(ii) Is an accredited representative for an organization other than a recognized organization through which the representative acquired accreditation; or

(iii) Is an attorney.

(g) Engages in contumelious or otherwise obnoxious conduct, with regard to a case in which he or she acts in a representative capacity, which would constitute contempt of court in a judicial proceeding;

(h) Has been found guilty of, or pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to, a serious crime, in any court of the United States, or of any state, possession, territory, commonwealth, or the District of Columbia. A serious crime includes any felony and also includes any lesser crime, a necessary element of which, as determined by the statutory or common law definition of such crime in the jurisdiction where the judgment was entered, involves interference with the administration of justice, false swearing, misrepresentation, fraud, willful failure to file income tax returns, deceit, dishonesty, bribery, extortion, misappropriation, theft, or an attempt, or a conspiracy or solicitation of another, to commit a serious crime. A plea or verdict of guilty or a conviction after a plea of nolo contendere is deemed to be a conviction within the meaning of this section;

(i) Knowingly or with reckless disregard falsely certifies a copy of a document as being a true and complete copy of an original;

(j) Engages in frivolous behavior in a proceeding before an immigration court, the Board, or any other administrative appellate body under title II of the Immigration and Nationality Act, provided:

(1) A practitioner engages in frivolous behavior when he or she knows or reasonably should have known that his or her actions lack an arguable basis in law or in fact, or are taken for an improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause unnecessary delay. Actions that, if taken improperly, may be subject to disciplinary sanctions include, but are not limited to, the making of an argument on any factual or legal question, the submission of an application for discretionary relief, the filing of a motion, or the filing of an appeal. The signature of a practitioner on any filing, application, motion, appeal, brief, or other document constitutes certification by the signer that the signer has read the filing, application, motion, appeal, brief, or other document and that, to the best of the signer's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after inquiry reasonable under the circumstances, the document is well-grounded in fact and is warranted by existing law or by a good faith argument for the extension, modification, or reversal of existing law or the establishment of new law, and is not interposed for any improper purpose.

(2) The imposition of disciplinary sanctions for frivolous behavior under this section in no way limits the authority of the Board to dismiss an appeal summarily pursuant to § 1003.1(d);

(k) Engages in conduct that constitutes ineffective assistance of counsel, as previously determined in a finding by the Board, an immigration judge in an immigration proceeding, or a Federal court judge or panel, and a disciplinary complaint is filed within one year of the finding;

(l) Repeatedly fails to appear for pre-hearing conferences, scheduled hearings, or case-related meetings in a timely manner without good cause;

(m) Assists any person, other than a practitioner as defined in § 1003.101(b), in the performance of activity that constitutes the unauthorized practice of law. The practice of law before EOIR means engaging in practice or preparation as those terms are defined in §§ 1001.1(i) and (k);

(n) Engages in conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice or undermines the integrity of the adjudicative process. Conduct that will generally be subject to sanctions under this ground includes any action or inaction that seriously impairs or interferes with the adjudicative process when the practitioner should have reasonably known to avoid such conduct;

(o) Fails to provide competent representation to a client. Competent representation requires the legal knowledge, skill, thoroughness, and preparation reasonably necessary for the representation. Competent handling of a particular matter includes inquiry into and analysis of the factual and legal elements of the problem, and use of methods and procedures meeting the standards of competent practitioners;

(p) Fails to abide by a client's decisions concerning the objectives of representation and fails to consult with the client as to the means by which they are to be pursued, in accordance with paragraph (r) of this section. A practitioner may take such action on behalf of the client as is impliedly authorized to carry out the representation;

(q) Fails to act with reasonable diligence and promptness in representing a client.

(1) A practitioner's workload must be controlled and managed so that each matter can be handled competently.

(2) A practitioner has the duty to act with reasonable promptness. This duty includes, but shall not be limited to, complying with all time and filing limitations. This duty, however, does not preclude the practitioner from agreeing to a reasonable request for a postponement that will not prejudice the practitioner's client.

(3) A practitioner should carry through to conclusion all matters undertaken for a client, consistent with the scope of representation as previously determined by the client and practitioner, unless the client terminates the relationship or the practitioner obtains permission to withdraw in compliance with applicable rules and regulations. If a practitioner has handled a proceeding that produced a result adverse to the client and the practitioner and the client have not agreed that the practitioner will handle the matter on appeal, the practitioner must consult with the client about the client's appeal rights and the terms and conditions of possible representation on appeal;

(r) Fails to maintain communication with the client throughout the duration of the client-practitioner relationship. It is the obligation of the practitioner to take reasonable steps to communicate with the client in a language that the client understands. A practitioner is only under the obligation to attempt to communicate with his or her client using addresses or phone numbers known to the practitioner. In order to properly maintain communication, the practitioner should:

(1) Promptly inform and consult with the client concerning any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client's informed consent is reasonably required;

(2) Reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client's objectives are to be accomplished. Reasonable consultation with the client includes the duty to meet with the client sufficiently in advance of a hearing or other matter to ensure adequate preparation of the client's case and compliance with applicable deadlines;

(3) Keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter, such as significant developments affecting the timing or the substance of the representation; and

(4) Promptly comply with reasonable requests for information, except that when a prompt response is not feasible, the practitioner, or a member of the practitioner's staff, should acknowledge receipt of the request and advise the client when a response may be expected;

(s) Fails to disclose to the adjudicator legal authority in the controlling jurisdiction known to the practitioner to be directly adverse to the position of the client and not disclosed by opposing counsel;

(t) Repeatedly fails to submit a signed and completed entry of appearance using the appropriate form in compliance with applicable rules and regulations, including 8 CFR 292.4(a), 1003.17, and 1003.38;

(u) Repeatedly drafts notices, motions, briefs, or claims that are filed with DHS or EOIR that reflect little or no attention to the specific factual or legal issues applicable to a client's case, but rather rely on boilerplate language indicative of a substantial failure to competently and diligently represent the client;

(v) Acts outside the scope of the representative's approved authority as an accredited representative.

(w) Repeatedly fails to sign any pleading, application, motion, petition, brief, or other document prepared, drafted, or filed with DHS or EOIR. The practitioner's signature must be in the practitioner's individual name and must be handwritten or electronically in conformity with the rules and instructions of the applicable system.

[65 FR 39526, June 27, 2000, as amended at 73 FR 76923, Dec. 18, 2008, 81 FR 92362, Dec. 19, 2016; 87 FR 56259, Sept. 14, 2022]

§ 1003.103 - Immediate suspension and summary disciplinary proceedings; duty of practitioner to notify EOIR of conviction or discipline.

(a) Immediate Suspension—(1) Petition. The EOIR disciplinary counsel shall file a petition with the Board to suspend immediately from practice before the Board and the Immigration Courts any practitioner who has been found guilty of, or pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to, a serious crime, as defined in § 1003.102(h), or any practitioner who has been suspended or disbarred by, or while a disciplinary investigation or proceeding is pending has resigned from, the highest court of any State, possession, territory, or Commonwealth of the United States, or the District of Columbia, or any Federal court, or who has been placed on an interim suspension pending a final resolution of the underlying disciplinary matter.

(2) DHS petition. DHS may file a petition with the Board to suspend immediately from practice before DHS any practitioner described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section. See 8 CFR 292.3(c).

(3) Copy of petition. A copy of a petition filed by the EOIR disciplinary counsel shall be forwarded to DHS, which may submit a written request to the Board that entry of any order immediately suspending a practitioner before the Board or the Immigration Courts also apply to the practitioner's authority to practice before DHS. A copy of a petition filed by DHS shall be forwarded to the EOIR disciplinary counsel, who may submit a written request to the Board that entry of any order immediately suspending a practitioner before DHS also apply to the practitioner's authority to practice before the Board and Immigration Courts. Proof of service on the practitioner of any request to broaden the scope of an immediate suspension or proposed discipline must be filed with the Board or the adjudicating official.

(4) Immediate suspension. Upon the filing of a petition for immediate suspension pursuant to §§ 1003.103(a)(1) or 1003.103(a)(2), together with a certified copy of a court record finding that a practitioner has been found guilty of, or pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to, a serious crime, or has been disciplined or has resigned, as described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section, the Board shall forthwith enter an order immediately suspending the practitioner from practice before the Board, the Immigration Courts, and/or DHS, notwithstanding the pendency of an appeal, if any, of the underlying disciplinary proceeding, pending final disposition of a summary disciplinary proceeding as provided in paragraph (b) of this section. Such immediate suspension will continue until imposition of a final administrative decision. If an immediate suspension is imposed upon a practitioner, the Board may require that notice of such suspension be posted at the Board, the Immigration Courts, or DHS. Upon good cause shown, the Board may set aside such order of immediate suspension when it appears in the interest of justice to do so. If a final administrative decision includes the imposition of a period of suspension, time spent by the practitioner under immediate suspension pursuant to this paragraph may be credited toward the period of suspension imposed under the final administrative decision.

(b) Summary disciplinary proceedings. The EOIR disciplinary counsel (or DHS pursuant to 8 CFR 292.3(c)(3)) shall promptly initiate summary disciplinary proceedings against any practitioner described in paragraph (a) of this section by the issuance of a Notice of Intent to Discipline, upon receipt of a certified copy of the order, judgment, or record evidencing the underlying criminal conviction, discipline, or resignation, and accompanied by a certified copy of such document. However, delays in initiation of summary disciplinary proceedings under this section will not impact an immediate suspension imposed pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section. Summary proceedings shall be conducted in accordance with the provisions set forth in §§ 1003.105 and 1003.106. Any such summary proceeding shall not be concluded until all direct appeals from an underlying criminal conviction shall have been completed.

(1) In matters concerning criminal convictions, a certified copy of the court record, docket entry, or plea shall be conclusive evidence of the commission of the crime in any summary disciplinary proceeding based thereon.

(2) In the case of a summary proceeding based upon a final order of disbarment or suspension, or a resignation while a disciplinary investigation or proceeding is pending (i.e., reciprocal discipline), a certified copy of a judgment or order of discipline shall establish a rebuttable presumption of the professional misconduct. Disciplinary sanctions shall follow in such a proceeding unless the attorney can rebut the presumption by demonstrating clear and convincing evidence that:

(i) The underlying disciplinary proceeding was so lacking in notice or opportunity to be heard as to constitute a deprivation of due process;

(ii) There was such an infirmity of proof establishing the attorney's professional misconduct as to give rise to the clear conviction that the adjudicating official could not, consistent with his or her duty, accept as final the conclusion on that subject; or

(iii) The imposition of discipline by the adjudicating official would result in grave injustice.

(c) Duty of practitioner and recognized organizations to notify EOIR of conviction or discipline. A practitioner and if applicable, the authorized officer of each recognized organization with which a practitioner is affiliated must notify the EOIR disciplinary counsel within 30 days of the issuance of the initial order, even if an appeal of the conviction or discipline is pending, when the practitioner has been found guilty of, or pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to, a serious crime, as defined in § 1003.102(h), or has been disbarred or suspended by, or while a disciplinary investigation or proceeding is pending has resigned from, the highest court of any State, possession, territory or Commonwealth of the United States, or the District of Columbia, or any Federal court. A practitioner's failure to do so may result in an immediate suspension as set forth in paragraph (a) of this section and other final discipline. An organization's failure to do so may result in the administrative termination of its recognition for violating the reporting requirement under 8 CFR 1292.14. This duty to notify applies only to convictions for serious crimes and to orders imposing discipline for professional misconduct entered on or after August 28, 2000.

[65 FR 39526, June 27, 2000, as amended at 73 FR 76923, Dec. 18, 2008; 77 FR 2014, Jan. 13, 2012; 81 FR 92362, Dec. 19, 2016]

§ 1003.104 - Filing of complaints; preliminary inquiries; resolutions; referral of complaints.

(a) Filing complaints—(1) Practitioners authorized to practice before the Board and the Immigration Courts. Complaints of criminal, unethical, or unprofessional conduct, or of frivolous behavior by a practitioner who is authorized to practice before the Board and the Immigration Courts shall be filed with the EOIR disciplinary counsel. Disciplinary complaints must be submitted in writing and must state in detail the information that supports the basis for the complaint, including, but not limited to, the names and addresses of the complainant and the practitioner, the date(s) of the conduct or behavior, the nature of the conduct or behavior, the individuals involved, the harm or damages sustained by the complainant, and any other relevant information. Any individual may file a complaint with the EOIR disciplinary counsel using the Form EOIR-44. The EOIR disciplinary counsel shall notify DHS of any disciplinary complaint that pertains, in whole or part, to a matter before DHS.

(2) Practitioners authorized to practice before DHS. Complaints of criminal, unethical, or unprofessional conduct, or frivolous behavior by a practitioner who is authorized to practice before DHS shall be filed with DHS pursuant to the procedures set forth in § 292.3(d) of this chapter.

(b) Preliminary inquiry. Upon receipt of a disciplinary complaint or on its own initiative, the EOIR disciplinary counsel will initiate a preliminary inquiry. If a complaint is filed by a client or former client, the complainant thereby waives the attorney-client privilege and any other privilege relating to the representation to the extent necessary to conduct a preliminary inquiry and any subsequent proceedings based thereon. If the EOIR disciplinary counsel determines that a complaint is without merit, no further action will be taken. The EOIR disciplinary counsel may, in the disciplinary counsel's discretion, close a preliminary inquiry if the complainant fails to comply with reasonable requests for assistance, information, or documentation. The complainant and the practitioner shall be notified of any such determination in writing.

(c) Resolution reached prior to the issuance of a Notice of Intent to Discipline. The EOIR disciplinary counsel, in its discretion, may issue warning letters and admonitions, and may enter into agreements in lieu of discipline, prior to the issuance of a Notice of Intent to Discipline.

(d) Referral of complaints of criminal conduct. If the EOIR disciplinary counsel receives credible information or allegations that a practitioner has engaged in criminal conduct, the EOIR disciplinary counsel shall refer the matter to DHS or the appropriate United States Attorney and, if appropriate, to the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or other law enforcement agency. In such cases, in making the decision to pursue disciplinary sanctions, the EOIR disciplinary counsel shall coordinate in advance with the appropriate investigative and prosecutorial authorities within the Department to ensure that neither the disciplinary process nor criminal prosecutions are jeopardized.

[65 FR 39526, June 27, 2000, as amended at 73 FR 76924, Dec. 18, 2008; 81 FR 92362, Dec. 19, 2016]

§ 1003.105 - Notice of Intent to Discipline.

(a) Issuance of Notice. (1) If, upon completion of the preliminary inquiry, the EOIR disciplinary counsel determines that sufficient prima facie evidence exists to warrant charging a practitioner with professional misconduct as set forth in § 1003.102 or a recognized organization with misconduct as set forth in § 1003.110, the EOIR disciplinary counsel will file with the Board and issue to the practitioner or organization that was the subject of the preliminary inquiry a Notice of Intent to Discipline. In cases involving practitioners, service of the notice will be made upon the practitioner either by certified mail to the practitioner's last known address, as defined in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, or by personal delivery. In cases involving recognized organizations, service of the notice will be made upon the authorized officer of the organization either by certified mail at the address of the organization or by personal delivery. The notice shall contain a statement of the charge(s), a copy of the preliminary inquiry report, the proposed disciplinary sanctions to be imposed, the procedure for filing an answer or requesting a hearing, and the mailing address and telephone number of the Board. In summary disciplinary proceedings brought pursuant to § 1003.103(b), a preliminary inquiry report is not required to be filed with the Notice of Intent to Discipline. If a Notice of Intent to Discipline is filed against an accredited representative, the EOIR disciplinary counsel shall send a copy of the notice to the authorized officer of the recognized organization through which the representative is accredited at the address of the organization.

(2) For the purposes of this section, the last known address of a practitioner is the practitioner's address as it appears in EOIR's case management system if the practitioner is actively representing a party before EOIR on the date that the EOIR disciplinary counsel issues the Notice of Intent to Discipline. If the practitioner does not have a matter pending before EOIR on the date of the issuance of a Notice of Intent to Discipline, then the last known address for a practitioner will be as follows:

(i) Attorneys in the United States: the attorney's address that is on record with a state jurisdiction that licensed the attorney to practice law.

(ii) Accredited representatives: the address of a recognized organization with which the accredited representative is affiliated.

(iii) Accredited officials: the address of the embassy of the foreign government that employs the accredited official.

(iv) All other practitioners: the address for the practitioner that appears in EOIR's case management system for the most recent matter on which the practitioner represented a party.

(3) DHS Issuance of Notice to practitioner. DHS may file a Notice of Intent to Discipline with the Board in accordance with 8 CFR 292.3(e).

(b) Copy of notice; reciprocity of discipline. A copy of the Notice of Intent to Discipline filed by the EOIR disciplinary counsel shall be forwarded to DHS, which may submit a written request to the Board or the adjudicating official requesting that any discipline imposed upon a practitioner which restricts his or her authority to practice before the Board and the Immigration Courts also apply to the practitioner's authority to practice before DHS. A copy of the Notice of Intent to Discipline filed by DHS shall be forwarded to the EOIR disciplinary counsel, who may submit a written request to the Board or the adjudicating official requesting that any discipline imposed upon a practitioner that restricts his or her authority to practice before DHS also apply to the practitioner's authority to practice before the Board and the Immigration Courts. Proof of service on the practitioner of any request to broaden the scope of the proposed discipline must be filed with the adjudicating official.

(c) Answer—(1) Filing. The practitioner or, in cases involving a recognized organization, the organization, shall file a written answer to the Notice of Intent to Discipline with the Board within 30 days of the date of service of the Notice of Intent to Discipline unless, on motion to the Board, an extension of time to answer is granted for good cause. A motion for an extension of time to answer must be received by the Board no later than three (3) working days before the time to answer has expired. A copy of the answer and any such motion shall be served by the practitioner on the counsel for the government.

(2) Contents. The answer shall contain a statement of facts which constitute the grounds of defense and shall specifically admit or deny each allegation set forth in the Notice of Intent to Discipline. Every allegation in the Notice of Intent to Discipline which is not denied in the answer shall be deemed to be admitted and may be considered as proved, and no further evidence in respect of such allegation need be adduced. The practitioner or, in cases involving a recognized organization, the organization, may also state affirmatively special matters of defense and may submit supporting documents, including affidavits or statements, along with the answer.

(3) Request for hearing. The practitioner or, in cases involving a recognized organization, the organization, shall also state in the answer whether a hearing on the matter is requested. If no such request is made, the opportunity for a hearing will be deemed waived.

(d) Failure to file an answer. (1) Failure to file an answer within the time period prescribed in the Notice of Intent to Discipline, except where the time to answer is extended by the Board, shall constitute an admission of the allegations in the Notice of Intent to Discipline and no further evidence with respect to such allegations need be adduced.

(2) Upon such a default by the practitioner or, in cases involving a recognized organization, the organization, the counsel for the government shall submit to the Board proof of service of the Notice of Intent to Discipline. The practitioner or the organization shall be precluded thereafter from requesting a hearing on the matter. The Board shall issue a final order adopting the proposed disciplinary sanctions in the Notice of Intent to Discipline unless to do so would foster a tendency toward inconsistent dispositions for comparable conduct or would otherwise be unwarranted or not in the interests of justice. With the exception of cases in which the Board has already imposed an immediate suspension pursuant to § 1003.103 or that otherwise involve an accredited representative or recognized organization, any final order imposing discipline shall not become effective sooner than 15 days from the date of the order to provide the practitioner opportunity to comply with the terms of such order, including, but not limited to, withdrawing from any pending immigration matters and notifying immigration clients of the imposition of any sanction. Any final order imposing discipline against an accredited representative or recognized organization shall become effective immediately. A practitioner or a recognized organization may file a motion to set aside a final order of discipline issued pursuant to this paragraph, with service of such motion on counsel for the government, provided:

(i) Such a motion is filed within 15 days of the date of service of the final order; and

(ii) The practitioner's or the recognized organization's failure to file an answer was due to exceptional circumstances (such as serious illness of the practitioner or death of an immediate relative of the practitioner, but not including less compelling circumstances) beyond the control of the practitioner or the recognized organization.

[65 FR 39526, June 27, 2000, as amended at 73 FR 76925, Dec. 18, 2008; 77 FR 2014, Jan. 13, 2012; 81 FR 92362, Dec. 19, 2016]

§ 1003.106 - Right to be heard and disposition.

(a) Right to be heard—(1) Summary disciplinary proceedings. A practitioner who is subject to summary disciplinary proceedings pursuant to § 1003.103(b) must make a prima facie showing to the Board in his or her answer that there is a material issue of fact in dispute with regard to the basis for summary disciplinary proceedings, or with one or more of the exceptions set forth in § 1003.103(b)(2)(i) through (iii). If the practitioner files a timely answer and the Board determines that there is a material issue of fact in dispute with regard to the basis for summary disciplinary proceedings, or with one or more of the exceptions set forth in § 1003.103(b)(2)(i) through (iii), then the Board shall refer the case to the Chief Immigration Judge for the appointment of an adjudicating official. If the practitioner fails to make such a prima facie showing, the Board shall retain jurisdiction over the case and issue a final order. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the Board shall refer any case to the Chief Immigration Judge for the appointment of an adjudicating official in which the practitioner has filed a timely answer and the case involves a charge or charges that cannot be adjudicated under the summary disciplinary proceedings provisions in § 1003.103(b). The Board shall refer such a case regardless of whether the practitioner has requested a hearing.

(2) Procedure. The procedures set forth in paragraphs (b) through (d) of this section apply to cases in which the practitioner or recognized organization files a timely answer to the Notice of Intent to Discipline, with the exception of cases in which the Board issues a final order pursuant to § 1003.105(d)(2) or § 1003.106(a)(1).

(i) The Chief Immigration Judge shall, upon the filing of an answer, appoint an Immigration Judge as an adjudicating official. At the request of the Chief Immigration Judge, the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer may appoint an Administrative Law Judge as an adjudicating official. The Director may appoint either an Immigration Judge or Administrative Law Judge as an adjudicating official if the Chief Immigration Judge or the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer does not appoint an adjudicating official or if the Director determines it is in the interest of efficiency to do so. An Immigration Judge or Administrative Law Judge shall not serve as the adjudicating official in any case in which the Judge is the complainant, in any case involving a practitioner who regularly appears before the Judge, or in any case involving a recognized organization whose representatives regularly appear before the Judge.

(ii) Upon the practitioner's or, in cases involving a recognized organization, the organization's, request for a hearing, the adjudicating official may designate the time and place of the hearing with due regard to the location of the practitioner's practice or residence or of the recognized organization, the convenience of witnesses, and any other relevant factors. When designating the time and place of a hearing, the adjudicating official shall provide for the service of a notice of hearing on the practitioner or the authorized officer of the recognized organization and the counsel for the government. The practitioner or the recognized organization shall be afforded adequate time to prepare a case in advance of the hearing. Pre-hearing conferences may be scheduled at the discretion of the adjudicating official in order to narrow issues, to obtain stipulations between the parties, to exchange information voluntarily, and otherwise to simplify and organize the proceeding. Settlement agreements reached after the issuance of a Notice of Intent to Discipline are subject to final approval by the adjudicating official or, if the practitioner or organization has not filed an answer, subject to final approval by the Board.

(iii) The practitioner or, in cases involving a recognized organization, the organization, may be represented by counsel at no expense to the government. Counsel for the practitioner or the organization shall file the appropriate Notice of Entry of Appearance (Form EOIR-27 or EOIR-28) in accordance with the procedures set forth in this part. Each party shall have a reasonable opportunity to examine and object to evidence presented by the other party, to present evidence, and to cross-examine witnesses presented by the other party. If the practitioner or the recognized organization files an answer but does not request a hearing, then the adjudicating official shall provide the parties an opportunity to submit briefs and evidence to support or refute any of the charges or affirmative defenses.

(iv) In rendering a decision, the adjudicating official shall consider the following: The complaint, the preliminary inquiry report, the Notice of Intent to Discipline, the answer, any supporting documents, and any other evidence, including pleadings, briefs, and other materials. Counsel for the government shall bear the burden of proving the grounds for disciplinary sanctions enumerated in the Notice of Intent to Discipline by clear and convincing evidence.

(v) The record of proceedings, regardless of whether an immigration judge or an administrative law judge is the adjudicating official, shall conform to the requirements of 8 CFR part 1003, subpart C and 8 CFR 1240.9. Disciplinary hearings shall be conducted in the same manner as Immigration Court proceedings as is appropriate, and shall be open to the public, except that:

(A) Depending upon physical facilities, the adjudicating official may place reasonable limitations upon the number of individuals in attendance at any one time, with priority being given to the press over the general public, and

(B) For the purposes of protecting witnesses, parties, or the public interest, the adjudicating official may limit attendance or hold a closed hearing.

(3) Failure to appear in proceedings. If the practitioner or, in cases involving a recognized organization, the organization, requests a hearing as provided in § 1003.105(c)(3) but fails to appear, the adjudicating official shall then proceed and decide the case in the absence of the practitioner or the recognized organization in accordance with paragraph (b) of this section, based on the available record, including any additional evidence or arguments presented by the counsel for the government at the hearing. In such a proceeding the counsel for the government shall submit to the adjudicating official proof of service of the Notice of Intent to Discipline as well as the Notice of the Hearing. The practitioner or the recognized organization shall be precluded thereafter from participating further in the proceedings. A final order imposing discipline issued pursuant to this paragraph shall not be subject to further review, except that the practitioner or the recognized organization may file a motion to set aside the order, with service of such motion on counsel for the government, provided:

(i) Such a motion is filed within 15 days of the date of issuance of the final order; and

(ii) The practitioner's or the recognized organization's failure to appear was due to exceptional circumstances (such as serious illness of the practitioner or death of an immediate relative of the practitioner, but not including less compelling circumstances) beyond the control of the practitioner or the recognized organization.

(b) Decision. The adjudicating official shall consider the entire record and, as soon as practicable, render a decision. If the adjudicating official finds that one or more grounds for disciplinary sanctions enumerated in the Notice of Intent to Discipline have been established by clear and convincing evidence, the official shall rule that the disciplinary sanctions set forth in the Notice of Intent to Discipline be adopted, modified, or otherwise amended. If the adjudicating official determines that the practitioner should be suspended, the time period for such suspension shall be specified. If the adjudicating official determines that the organization's recognition should be revoked, the official may also identify the persons affiliated with the organization who were directly involved in the conduct that constituted the grounds for revocation. If the adjudicating official determines that the organization's recognition should be terminated, the official shall specify the time restriction, if any, before the organization may submit a new request for recognition. Any grounds for disciplinary sanctions enumerated in the Notice of Intent to Discipline that have not been established by clear and convincing evidence shall be dismissed. The adjudicating official shall provide for service of a written decision or memorandum summarizing an oral decision on the practitioner or, in cases involving a recognized organization, on the authorized officer of the organization and on the counsel for the government. Except as provided in paragraph (a)(2) of this section, the adjudicating official's decision becomes final only upon waiver of appeal or expiration of the time for appeal to the Board, whichever comes first, and does not take effect during the pendency of an appeal to the Board as provided in § 1003.6. A final order imposing discipline against an accredited representative or recognized organization shall take effect immediately.

(c) Appeal. Upon issuance of a decision by the adjudicating official, either party or both parties may appeal to the Board to conduct a review pursuant to § 1003.1(d)(3). Parties must comply with all pertinent provisions for appeals to the Board, including provisions relating to forms and fees, as set forth in Part 1003, and must use Form EOIR-45. The decision of the Board is the final administrative order as provided in § 1003.1(d)(7), and shall be served upon the practitioner or, in cases involving a recognized organization, the organization, as provided in § 1003.1(f). With the exception of cases in which the Board has already imposed an immediate suspension pursuant to § 1003.103 or cases involving accredited representatives or recognized organizations, any final order imposing discipline shall not become effective sooner than 15 days from the date of the order to provide the practitioner opportunity to comply with the terms of such order, including, but not limited to, withdrawing from any pending immigration matters and notifying immigration clients of the imposition of any sanction. A final order imposing discipline against an accredited representative or recognized organization shall take effect immediately. A copy of the final administrative order of the Board shall be served upon the counsel for the government. If disciplinary sanctions are imposed against a practitioner or a recognized organization (other than a private censure), the Board may require that notice of such sanctions be posted at the Board, the Immigration Courts, or DHS for the period of time during which the sanctions are in effect, or for any other period of time as determined by the Board.

(d) Referral. In addition to, or in lieu of, initiating disciplinary proceedings against a practitioner, the EOIR disciplinary counsel may notify an appropriate Federal or state disciplinary or regulatory authority of any complaint filed against a practitioner. Any final administrative decision imposing sanctions against a practitioner (other than a private censure) shall be reported to any such disciplinary or regulatory authority in every jurisdiction where the disciplined practitioner is admitted or otherwise authorized to practice. In addition, the EOIR disciplinary counsel shall transmit notice of all public discipline imposed under this rule to the National Lawyer Regulatory Data Bank maintained by the American Bar Association.

[65 FR 39526, June 27, 2000, as amended at 73 FR 76925, Dec. 18, 2008; 77 FR 2015, Jan. 13, 2012; 81 FR 92363, Dec. 19, 2016; 86 FR 70723, Dec. 13, 2021]

§ 1003.107 - Reinstatement after disbarment or suspension.

(a) Reinstatement upon expiration of suspension. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (c)(1) of this section, after the period of suspension has expired, a practitioner who has been suspended and wishes to be reinstated must file a motion to the Board requesting reinstatement to practice before the Board and the Immigration Courts, or DHS, or before all three authorities. The practitioner must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that notwithstanding the suspension, the practitioner otherwise meets the definition of attorney or representative as set forth in § 1001.1(f) and (j), respectively, of this chapter. The practitioner must serve a copy of such motion on the EOIR disciplinary counsel. In matters in which the practitioner was ordered suspended from practice before DHS, the practitioner must serve a copy of such motion on the DHS disciplinary counsel.

(2) The EOIR disciplinary counsel and, in matters in which the practitioner was ordered suspended from practice before DHS, the DHS disciplinary counsel, may reply within 13 days of service of the motion in the form of a written response objecting to the reinstatement on the ground that the practitioner failed to comply with the terms of the suspension. The response must include supporting documentation or evidence of the petitioner's failure to comply with the terms of the suspension. The Board, in its discretion, may afford the parties additional time to file briefs or hold a hearing to determine if the practitioner meets all the requirements for reinstatement.

(3) If a practitioner does not meet the definition of attorney or representative, the Board shall deny the motion for reinstatement without further consideration. If the practitioner failed to comply with the terms of the suspension, the Board shall deny the motion and indicate the circumstances under which the practitioner may apply for reinstatement. If the practitioner meets the definition of attorney or representative and the practitioner otherwise has complied with the terms of the suspension, the Board shall grant the motion and reinstate the practitioner.

(b) Early reinstatement. (1) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, a practitioner who has been disbarred or who has been suspended for one year or more may file a petition for reinstatement directly with the Board after one-half of the suspension period has expired or one year has passed, whichever is greater, provided that notwithstanding the suspension, the practitioner otherwise meets the definition of attorney or representative as set forth in § 1001.1(f) and (j), respectively, of this chapter. A copy of such a petition shall be served on the EOIR disciplinary counsel. In matters in which the practitioner was ordered disbarred or suspended from practice before DHS, a copy of such petition shall be served on the DHS disciplinary counsel.

(2) A practitioner seeking early reinstatement must demonstrate by clear and convincing evidence that the practitioner possesses the moral and professional qualifications required to appear before the Board, the Immigration Courts, or DHS, and that the practitioner's reinstatement will not be detrimental to the administration of justice. The EOIR disciplinary counsel and, in matters in which the practitioner was ordered disbarred or suspended from practice before DHS, the DHS disciplinary counsel, may reply within 30 days of service of the petition in the form of a written response to the Board, which may include, but is not limited to, documentation or evidence of the practitioner's failure to comply with the terms of the disbarment or suspension or of any complaints filed against the disbarred or suspended practitioner subsequent to the practitioner's disbarment or suspension.

(3) If a practitioner cannot meet the definition of attorney or representative, the Board shall deny the petition for reinstatement without further consideration. If the petition for reinstatement is found to be otherwise inappropriate or unwarranted, the petition shall be denied. Any subsequent petitions for reinstatement may not be filed before the end of one year from the date of the Board's previous denial of reinstatement, unless the practitioner is otherwise eligible for reinstatement under paragraph (a). If the petition for reinstatement is determined to be timely, the practitioner meets the definition of attorney or representative, and the petitioner has otherwise established by the requisite standard of proof that the practitioner possesses the qualifications set forth herein, and that reinstatement will not be detrimental to the administration of justice, the Board shall grant the petition and reinstate the practitioner. The Board, in its discretion, may hold a hearing to determine if the practitioner meets all of the requirements for reinstatement.

(c) Accredited representatives. (1) An accredited representative who has been suspended for a period of time greater than the remaining period of validity of the representative's accreditation at the time of the suspension is not eligible to be reinstated under § 1003.107(a) or (b). In such circumstances, after the period of suspension has expired, an organization may submit a new request for accreditation pursuant to 8 CFR 1292.13 on behalf of such an individual.

(2) Disbarment. An accredited representative who has been disbarred is permanently barred from appearing before the Board, the Immigration Courts, or DHS as an accredited representative and cannot seek reinstatement.

(d) Appearance after reinstatement. A practitioner who has been reinstated to practice by the Board must file a new Notice of Entry of Appearance of Attorney or Representative in each case on the form required by applicable rules and regulations, even if the reinstated practitioner previously filed such a form in a proceeding before the practitioner was disciplined.

[65 FR 39526, June 27, 2000, as amended at 73 FR 76926, Dec. 18, 2008; 77 FR 2015, Jan. 13, 2012; 81 FR 92364, Dec. 19, 2016]

§ 1003.108 - Confidentiality.

(a) Complaints and preliminary inquiries. Except as otherwise provided by law or regulation, information concerning complaints or preliminary inquiries is confidential. A practitioner or recognized organization whose conduct is the subject of a complaint or preliminary inquiry, however, may waive confidentiality, except that the EOIR disciplinary counsel may decline to permit a waiver of confidentiality if it is determined that an ongoing preliminary inquiry may be substantially prejudiced by public disclosure before the filing of a Notice of Intent to Discipline.

(1) Disclosure of information for the purpose of protecting the public. The EOIR disciplinary counsel may disclose information concerning a complaint or preliminary inquiry for the protection of the public when the necessity for disclosing information outweighs the necessity for preserving confidentiality in circumstances including, but not limited to, the following:

(i) A practitioner or recognized organization has caused, or is likely to cause, harm to client(s), the public, or the administration of justice, such that the public or specific individuals should be advised of the nature of the allegations. If disclosure of information is made pursuant to this paragraph, the EOIR disciplinary counsel may define the scope of information disseminated and may limit the disclosure of information to specified individuals and entities;

(ii) A practitioner or recognized organization has committed criminal acts or is under investigation by law enforcement authorities;

(iii) A practitioner or recognized organization is under investigation by a disciplinary or regulatory authority, or has committed acts or made omissions that may reasonably result in investigation by such authorities;

(iv) A practitioner or recognized organization is the subject of multiple disciplinary complaints and the EOIR disciplinary counsel has determined not to pursue all of the complaints. The EOIR disciplinary counsel may inform complainants whose allegations have not been pursued of the status of any other preliminary inquiries or the manner in which any other complaint(s) against the practitioner or recognized organization have been resolved.

(2) Disclosure of information for the purpose of conducting a preliminary inquiry. The EOIR disciplinary counsel, in the exercise of discretion, may disclose documents and information concerning complaints and preliminary inquiries to the following individuals and entities:

(i) To witnesses or potential witnesses in conjunction with a complaint or preliminary inquiry;

(ii) To other governmental agencies responsible for the enforcement of civil or criminal laws;

(iii) To agencies and other jurisdictions responsible for disciplinary or regulatory investigations and proceedings;

(iv) To the complainant or a lawful designee;

(v) To the practitioner or recognized organization who is the subject of the complaint or preliminary inquiry or the practitioner's or recognized organization's counsel of record.

(3) Disclosure of information for the purpose of recognition of organizations and accreditation of representatives. The EOIR disciplinary counsel, in the exercise of discretion, may disclose information concerning complaints or preliminary inquiries regarding applicants for recognition and accreditation, recognized organizations or their authorized officers, or accredited representatives to the Assistant Director for Policy (or the Assistant Director for Policy's delegate) for any purpose related to the recognition of organizations and accreditation of representatives.

(b) Resolutions reached prior to the issuance of a Notice of Intent to Discipline. Resolutions reached prior to the issuance of a Notice of Intent to Discipline, such as warning letters, admonitions, and agreements in lieu of discipline are confidential, except that resolutions that pertain to an accredited representative may be disclosed to the accredited representative's organization and the Assistant Director for Policy (or the Assistant Director for Policy's delegate). However, all such resolutions may become part of the public record if the practitioner becomes subject to a subsequent Notice of Intent to Discipline.

(c) Notices of Intent to Discipline and action subsequent thereto. Notices of Intent to Discipline and any action that takes place subsequent to their issuance, except for the imposition of private censures, may be disclosed to the public, except that private censures may become part of the public record if introduced as evidence of a prior record of discipline in any subsequent disciplinary proceeding. Settlement agreements reached after the issuance of a Notice of Intent to Discipline may be disclosed to the public upon final approval by the adjudicating official or the Board. Disciplinary hearings are open to the public, except as noted in § 1003.106(a)(1)(v).

[65 FR 39526, June 27, 2000, as amended at 73 FR 76926, Dec. 18, 2008; 81 FR 92365, Dec. 19, 2016; 84 FR 44542, Aug. 26, 2019]

§ 1003.109 - Discipline of government attorneys.

Complaints regarding the conduct or behavior of Department attorneys, Immigration Judges, or Board Members shall be directed to the Office of Professional Responsibility, United States Department of Justice. If disciplinary action is warranted, it shall be administered pursuant to the Department's attorney discipline procedures.

§ 1003.110 - Sanction of recognized organizations.

(a) Authority to sanction. (1) An adjudicating official or the Board may impose disciplinary sanctions against a recognized organization if it is in the public interest to do so. It will be in the public interest to impose disciplinary sanctions if a recognized organization has engaged in the conduct described in paragraph (b) of this section. In accordance with the disciplinary proceedings set forth in this subpart, an adjudicating official or the Board may impose the following sanctions:

(i) Revocation, which removes the organization and its accredited representatives from the recognition and accreditation roster and permanently bars the organization from future recognition;

(ii) Termination, which removes the organization and its accredited representatives from the recognition and accreditation roster but does not bar the organization from future recognition. In terminating recognition under this section, the adjudicating official or the Board may preclude the organization from submitting a new request for recognition under 8 CFR 1292.13 before a specified date; or

(iii) Such other disciplinary sanctions, except a suspension, as the adjudicating official or the Board deems appropriate.

(2) The administrative termination of an organization's recognition under 8 CFR 1292.17 after the issuance of Notice of Intent to Discipline pursuant to § 1003.105(a)(1) shall not preclude the continuation of disciplinary proceedings and the imposition of sanctions, unless counsel for the government moves to dismiss the Notice of Intent to Discipline and the adjudicating official or the Board grants the motion.

(3) The imposition of disciplinary sanctions against a recognized organization does not result in disciplinary sanctions against that organization's accredited representatives; disciplinary sanctions, if any, against an organization's accredited representatives must be imposed separately from disciplinary sanctions against the organization. Termination or revocation of an organization's recognition has the effect of terminating the accreditation of representatives of that organization, but such individuals may retain or seek accreditation through another recognized organization.

(b) Grounds. It shall be deemed to be in the public interest for an adjudicating official or the Board to impose disciplinary sanctions against any recognized organization that violates one or more of the grounds specified in this paragraph, except that these grounds do not constitute the exclusive grounds for which disciplinary sanctions may be imposed in the public interest. A recognized organization may be subject to disciplinary sanctions if it:

(1) Knowingly or with reckless disregard provides a false statement or misleading information in applying for recognition or accreditation of its representatives;

(2) Knowingly or with reckless disregard provides false or misleading information to clients or prospective clients regarding the scope of authority of, or the services provided by, the organization or its accredited representatives;

(3) Fails to adequately supervise accredited representatives;

(4) Employs, receives services from, or affiliates with an individual who performs an activity that constitutes the unauthorized practice of law or immigration fraud; or

(5) Engages in the practice of law through staff when it does not have an attorney or accredited representative.

(c) Joint disciplinary proceedings. The EOIR disciplinary counsel or DHS disciplinary counsel may file a Notice of Intent to Discipline against a recognized organization and one or more of its accredited representatives pursuant to § 1003.101 et seq. Disciplinary proceedings conducted on such notices, if they are filed jointly with the Board, shall be joined and referred to the same adjudicating official pursuant to § 1003.106. An adjudicating official may join related disciplinary proceedings after the filing of a Notice of Intent to Discipline.

[81 FR 92365, Dec. 19, 2016]

§ 1003.111 - Interim suspension.

(a) Petition for interim suspension—(1) EOIR Petition. In conjunction with the filing of a Notice of Intent to Discipline or at any time thereafter during disciplinary proceedings before an adjudicating official, the EOIR disciplinary counsel may file a petition for an interim suspension of an accredited representative. Such suspension, if issued, precludes the representative from practicing before the Board and the Immigration Courts during the pendency of disciplinary proceedings and continues until the issuance of a final order in the disciplinary proceedings.

(2) DHS Petition. In conjunction with the filing of a Notice of Intent to Discipline or at any time thereafter during disciplinary proceedings before an adjudicating official, the DHS disciplinary counsel may file a petition for an interim suspension of an accredited representative. Such suspension, if issued, precludes the representative from practicing before DHS during the pendency of disciplinary proceedings and continues until the issuance of a final order in the disciplinary proceedings.

(3) Contents of the petition. In the petition, counsel for the government must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that the accredited representative poses a substantial threat of irreparable harm to clients or prospective clients. An accredited representative poses a substantial threat of irreparable harm to clients or prospective clients if the representative committed three or more acts in violation of the grounds of discipline described at § 1003.102, when actual harm or threatened harm is demonstrated, or engages in any other conduct that, if continued, will likely cause irreparable harm to clients or prospective clients. Counsel for the government must serve the petition on the accredited representative, as provided in § 1003.105, and send a copy of the petition to the authorized officer of the recognized organization at the address of the organization through which the representative is accredited.

(4) Requests to broaden scope. The EOIR disciplinary counsel or DHS disciplinary counsel may submit a request to broaden the scope of any interim suspension order such that an accredited representative would be precluded from practice before the Board, the Immigration Courts, and DHS.

(b) Response. The accredited representative may file a written response to the petition for interim suspension within 30 days of service of the petition.

(c) Adjudication. Upon the expiration of the time to respond to the petition for an interim suspension, the adjudicating official will consider the petition for an interim suspension, the accredited representative's response, if any, and any other evidence presented by the parties before determining whether to issue an interim suspension. If the adjudicating official imposes an interim suspension on the representative, the adjudicating official may require that notice of the interim suspension be posted at the Board and the Immigration Courts, or DHS, or all three authorities. Upon good cause shown, the adjudicating official may set aside an order of interim suspension when it appears in the interest of justice to do so. If a final order in the disciplinary proceedings includes the imposition of a period of suspension against an accredited representative, time spent by the representative under an interim suspension pursuant to this section may be credited toward the period of suspension imposed under the final order.

[81 FR 92365, Dec. 19, 2016]