General Requirements for Being an Hired as an Immigration Judge

Written by Alexander J. Segal on

Alexander J. Segal's picture

On August 14, 2017, the Executive Officer for Immigration Review announced the swearing in of nine immigration judges, which we discuss on site [see blog]. In its news release, the EOIR provided a window into what the Attorney General looks for when evaluating immigration judge applicants [PDF version].

An April 7, 2016 notice for an immigration judge job opening for the Baltimore Immigration Court noted several additional requirements [PDF version]:

  • Must have an LL.B or J.D. degree;
  • Must be duly licensed and authorized to practice law as an attorney under the laws of a state, territory, or the District of Columbia;
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or national (noncitizen nationals qualify); and
  • Must have a minimum of seven years of relevant post-bar admission legal experience at the time the application is submitted.

Immigration Judge Applicant

It is important to note that those who are neither citizens nor nationals are not eligible to be immigration judges. This includes lawful permanent residents.

Applicants are required to meet the above basic qualifications by the closing date of the job opening announcement.

Returning to the August 14, 2017 document, the EOIR stated that an immigration judge applicant must demonstrate the “appropriate temperament” to serve as an immigration judge. Additionally, the applicant must satisfy any three of the following five criteria in order to be selected as an immigration judge:

  • Knowledge of immigration laws and procedures;
  • Substantial litigation experience;
  • Experience handling complex legal issues;
  • Experience conducting administrative hearings; and
  • Knowledge of judicial practices and procedures.

The qualifications allow for talented lawyers with a variety of legal backgrounds to be considered for positions as immigration judges. The nine judges sworn in on August 14 bring a variety of experiences to their new positions. Some worked extensively in private practice, others served as administrative adjudicators in non-immigration positions, a few were attorneys for the Legal Aid Society, one was a military adjudicator, and two served as attorneys at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).