Saakian (defendant) came to the United States from Armenia as a non-immigrant visitor. He then filed an application for asylum. His request was denied and he was ordered to appear before an immigration judge for a deportation hearing. Saakian retained a non-attorney authorized to represent aliens in deportation hearings. She filed a motion to change venue and told Saakian that he did not need to attend his original hearing. This advice was erroneous and Saakian was ordered deported in absentia. Saakian filed a pro se motion to reopen the deportation order, alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. The immigration judge denied Saakian's motion to reopen because it did not meet the evidentiary requirements for a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The immigration judge implied that Saakian was precluded from remedying the deficiencies in the motion. The Board of Immigration Appeals affirmed the decision and Saakian petitioned the Court of Appeals for the First Circuit to review the decision, claiming that he was denied due process.