What Should You Expect at a Deportation Hearing?

Facing deportation can be frightening and stressful for you and your loved ones. When going through this process, it is important to remember that the government must provide proof of adequate grounds for removal before the court can order deportation. Your deportation hearings give you your day in court to oppose your removal. It is crucial to show up at these hearings and be prepared, or you may face deportation.

An experienced immigration lawyer can explain how the deportation process works and what to expect at your hearings. If you have questions about this critical and sometimes confusing legal process, do not hesitate to contact our law office to speak with a helpful lawyer today. Even if a judge has ordered your removal, you may have legal options, but prompt action is critical.

What Notification Must You Receive Before Your Hearing?

If the government believes you have violated immigration laws, the Department of Homeland Security will serve you with a Notice to Appear (NTA) before an immigration judge. You may receive this letter at home or be served with the document while in custody. Your NTA letter should contain the following:

  • An explanation of the proceedings.
  • Why the government believes it has grounds for your removal.
  • Information on your right to hire an attorney to represent you.
  • What consequences you face if you do not attend your hearings.

Your NTA may contain a court date for your initial hearing, or you may receive that information through a second document. Be sure to note the date and time of your hearing because a failure to appear almost always results in automatic approval of your removal in your absence.

What is the Deportation Hearings Process?

You have the right to challenge your removal from the US, and the deportation hearings process allows you to exercise your legal rights. However, the process is often complicated, so the assistance of a knowledgeable immigration lawyer can be vital. Two main hearings will be scheduled, each with a different purpose.

Master Calendar Hearing

Your initial hearing will be what is known as a master calendar hearing. This is a shorter preliminary hearing where you will go before the judge and admit to or deny the charges brought against you. If you are going to deny the charges, you can specify what defenses to removal you are planning to utilize.

Your immigration lawyer is allowed to be present at this hearing and will help you respond to the charges. They can help you decide how you wish to plead and file your application if you are eligible for relief from removal. Examples of defenses to removal include applying for asylum, cancellation of removal, and proving marriage to a US citizen.

At the end of the master calendar hearing, you will likely have a date scheduled for your merits hearing. The master calendar hearing usually involves many respondents being called before the judge individually for a short time. If you show up for your master calendar hearing and sign in and your name is not called before the court is adjourned, do not leave the building without informing a court employee of your situation and getting a new court date scheduled. You do not want to risk being marked as missing your hearing because it could harm your case.

Merits Hearing

The next step in the process is the merits hearing. This hearing is much longer and more involved than the master calendar hearing. The merits hearing encompasses one or more individual court appearances before an immigration judge, where you and your lawyer will present your defense against your removal.

During this hearing, you may provide testimony from witnesses, expert opinions, and other evidence to support your case. You are also allowed to testify on your own behalf and may face questions from the Department of Homeland Security attorney. If English is not your primary language and you require an interpreter, one will be provided.

After reviewing all evidence and legal arguments, the immigration judge will make a determination on your case. The judge may present their opinion orally at the end of the hearing, or they can issue a written decision at a later date.

What Can You Do if You Disagree With the Immigration Judge’s Decision?

While it can be frustrating and disheartening to lose your deportation case, it is crucial to stay calm because you still have legal options. Your lawyer can write an appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) within 30 days of the judgment. Many cases are won on appeal. If the BIA denies your request, it may be possible to take your case before a federal court. A deportation order appeal lawyer can help you determine the best course of action based on the details of your situation.

How Can a Lawyer Assist With Your Deportation Hearing?

Experiencing removal proceedings can be incredibly stressful for you and your family. A compassionate immigration lawyer can help you build the strongest possible removal defense and advocate for your rights in the complex immigration system. Our legal team understands the importance of your deportation hearings, and we will ensure that you are prepared for your court dates and testimony if you choose to take the stand. We know what is at stake and will do everything within our power to help keep your family together. Contact our office today to speak with a helpful immigration attorney who is ready to fight for you.