Immigration Court Hearings

Deportation/removal proceedings begin once the DHS files the Notice to Appear with the Immigration Court. These removal/deportation proceedings may be conducted in person, by video conference, or, in certain circumstances, by telephone conference. It is very important for the alien attend any hearing dates set by the immigration court as the immigration judge may conduct the hearing without the alien present and able to present his or her case. The DHS must prove that the alien is in the United States unlawfully and should be removed. At the hearing, the alien may present evidence supporting his or her case against removal.

Once an alien has been placed in removal proceedings, the case becomes procedurally more formal and the stakes for the alien become much higher

As in criminal cases, there are two types of court dates in Immigration Court, one is called Master Calendar and the other is the Individual Hearing. The first court date in the NTA will be for a Master Calendar date. On Master Calendar dates, the IJ deals with administrative issues, including scheduling, filing applications, pleading to the immigration charges, and other issues that arise.

The master calendar hearing deals with preliminary matters, including:

  • advising the alien of the right to an attorney or other representative at no expense to the government
  • advising the alien of the availability of free and low-cost legal service providers and provide the respondent with a list of such providers in the area where the hearing is being conducted
  • advising the alien of the right to present evidence, and advise the alien of the right to examine and object to evidence and to cross-examine any witnesses presented by the Department of Homeland Security.
  • explaining the charges and factual allegations contained in the Notice to Appear to the alien in non-technical language
  • taking pleadings
  • identifying and narrowing the factual and legal issues
  • setting deadlines for filing applications for relief, briefs, motions, prehearing statements, exhibits, witness lists, and other documents
  • providing warnings related to background and security investigations
  • scheduling hearings to adjudicate contested matters and applications for relief
  • advising the alien of the consequences of failing to appear at subsequent hearings
  • advising the alien of the right to appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals

At the master calendar hearing the alien should be prepared to:

  • concede or deny service of the Notice to Appear
  • request or waive a formal reading of the Notice to Appear
  • request or waive an explanation of the respondent’s rights and obligations in removal proceedings
  • admit or deny the charges and factual allegations in the Notice to Appear
  • designate or decline to designate a country of removal
  • state what applications(s) for relief from removal, if any, the respondent intends to file
  • identify and narrow the legal and factual issues
  • to request a date on which to file the application(s) for relief, if any, with the Immigration Court
  • to request an interpreter for the alien and witnesses, if needed

Individual Calendar Hearings

Evidentiary hearings on contested matters are referred to as individual calendar hearings or merits hearings which may be scheduled at the first hearing. Contested matters include challenges to removability/deportability and applications for relief. At these hearings the alien has the ability to introduce evidence and call witnesses to support any claims for relief they may have. Aliens also have the ability to object to the governments evidence and cross-examine the governments witnesses. After the alien and the government have presented their cases, the Immigration Judge will either enter an oral ruling at the conclusion of the hearing or issue a decision at a later date.

Why do I need an attorney?

VisaNation Law Group’s attorneys are committed to defending individuals in removal hearings and strive to achieve the best possible outcome depending on the facts of each case. Whether you need someone to represent you in removal/deportation proceedings or reopen an immigration proceeding, they are happy to talk with you and show you how we can help.