Last week the Supreme Court issued its decision in Mata v. Lynch, which held that an immigrant who sought to reopen his removal proceedings late because of his prior attorney’s bad acts could appeal the denial of his motion to the federal courts.

And while the court only addressed the issue of jurisdiction, it is a critical decision which will make it possible for others who need to reopen their immigration case but are past the deadline to file a motion to reopen.  Of course they will still need to justify their delay, and they might need the court to “equitably toll” the deadline.  But the Supreme Court’s decision in Mata v. Lynch makes clear that courts of appeals always have jurisdiction to review the denial of a motion to reopen.

As Steve Vladek writes on Scotusblog

Going forward, the decision clarifies that the courts of appeals have jurisdiction over any BIA denials of statutory motions to reopen, so long as the immigrant’s claim is construed as such.

This decision also will hopefully put to rest the inter-circuit split over the “Departure Bar,” a regulation that purports to strip the BIA of jurisdiction to hear motions to reopen and reconsider if the immigrant has already been deported or departed the country.

Although almost all circuits have rejected the departure bar, there are several stragglers and several remaining “departure bar” issues being litigated in the courts (I know of cases pending in the 5th and 7th Circuits challenging BIA decisions saying the Board lacks jurisdiction to reopen when an immigrant has departed)