Deportation Defense / Immigration Court Information

Do you want to learn more about how to fight deportation?

If you or someone you care about is facing deportation, you probably have many questions about what you can do to stop the deportation process. Receiving a notice to appear in immigration court or being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement may be one of the most frightening things that an immigrant will ever experience. The best thing to do if you or a family member are facing deportation is to talk to an immigration lawyer as quickly as possible about your situation to see if you have options that will allow you to remain in the United States.

How do people end up in immigration court?

People who are commonly identified and placed in deportation proceedings include: people arrested for a criminal violation or who are completing a criminal sentence, people who unsuccessfully apply for an immigration benefit, people detained during workplace raids and people arrested at a border entry point. Regardless of how you find yourself in immigration court, you should make sure that you explore all the options that are available to you to defend against deportation.

Immigration Court Notice to Appear

In most cases, you will receive a Notice to Appear (NTA) that tells you the date, time and location of the court where your initial hearing will be held.

If your Notice to Appear doesn't include a date and time for your hearing, it is important that you make sure that you don't miss receiving the hearing notice that includes this information. Always make sure that you keep the immigration court and Immigration and Customs Enforcement updated on your mailing address. If you fail to receive your hearing notice because you didn't update your mailing address, you may be ordered deported even though you never had a chance to present your case in court. While you are waiting for your hearing notice, you should call the immigration court information line at 1-800-898-7180 to see if you have been given a hearing date.

The NTA also provides important information about the immigration charges against you and why the government thinks that you are deportable. This information is very important for your immigration lawyer to review, so make sure that you keep a copy of it in a safe place.

Master Calendar Hearings in Immigration Court

The initial hearing in immigration court is called a Master Calendar Hearing. During your Master Calendar Hearing, you typically will answer the immigration charges against you. Depending on your situation, you may file your application for relief from deportation. If you want to request voluntary departure, you will have the opportunity to ask the judge for it.

At the end of your Master Calendar Hearing, the judge normally will schedule a trial date for the hearing on your applications for relief if you have some form of relief from deportation available to you. But, if you don't have some form of relief from deportation available to you, the immigration judge could order you to be deported.

It is becoming more difficult to ask the immigration judge during your initial Master Calendar Hearing for more time to find an immigration lawyer. You should make every effort to discuss you situation with an immigration lawyer before your first hearing. 

It is important to keep in mind that you must attend all of your immigration court hearings. If you do not attend your hearing, you may be ordered deported even though you have not had the opportunity to present any defense that you may have to deportation. If you are ordered deported because you did not attend your hearing, it is extremely difficult to reopen your case so that you can request to stay in the United States.

Individual Merits Hearings in Immigration Court

The individual merits hearing in immigration court is roughly the equivalent of a trial. Unlike criminal court, however, there is no jury in immigration court. The immigration judge will decide whether or not to approve your applications for relief from deportation.

Before your individual hearing, your applications for relief from deportation must be submitted. In addition, all of the evidence to support your applications must be submitted. You may also need to submit special motions such as motions to suppress evidence  if they are needed for your case.

During your individual hearing you will have the opportunity to present your case to the judge. The government's attorney will also be able to present evidence and ask you questions. In some cases, the immigration judge may also ask you questions.

Immigration Appeals

If the immigration judge does not decide in you favor during the individual hearing, you may be able to file an appeal. Not all decisions can be appealed. You can only appeal if you can identify some type of legal or factual error made by the judge.

It is important to keep in mind that you normally cannot submit new evidence when you file an appeal. This means that if you didn't submit your evidence as part of your individual hearing, you likely will not be able to use it to support an appeal.

There are also time limits on when you can submit your appeal. If you do not appeal within the given time limit, the judge's decision will be final and you will not be able to appeal the decision. If you want to appeal the decision of the immigration judge in your case, you should act quickly.

Immigration Detention

The individual merits hearing in immigration court is roughly the equivalent of a trial. Unlike criminal court, however, there is no jury in immigration court. The immigration judge will decide whether or not to approve your applications for relief from deportation.

Before your individual hearing, your applications for relief from deportation must be submitted. In addition, all of the evidence to support your applications must be submitted. You may also need to submit special motions such as motions to suppress evidence  if they are needed for your case.

During your individual hearing you will have the opportunity to present your case to the judge. The government's attorney will also be able to present evidence and ask you questions. In some cases, the immigration judge may also ask you questions.

How We Can Help With Your Immigration Court Case

You are not required to have a deportation defense lawyer and one will not be provided for you by the court. You may, however, hire an immigration lawyer to represent you at your own expense. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer you should contact local non-profit agencies to see if they can provide you free or low-cost legal assistance.

Immigration Lawyer Immigration Court Services

Our immigration lawyer adjustment of status services include the following:

  • Help you identify whether there are any errors on your NTA
  • Help you identify any relief you may have to deportation such as cancellation of removal, adjustment of status, deferred action, asylum, withholding of removal or relief under the Convention Against Torture
  • Prepare any legal motions, briefs, or memos needed for your case
  • Prepare your applications for relief for deportation
  • Identify the supporting documents needed for your application
  • Assist with preparing any affidavits or declarations needed for your case
  • Assist you in preparing for your individual merits
  • Represent you during your immigration court hearings
  • If you are placed in detention, your immigration attorney may be able to help you get released on bond
  • Represent you in an immigration appeal, if needed