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What to expect at your master calendar hearing

On Behalf of | May 30, 2019 | Firm News

Facing the threat of removal, or deportation, can be terrifying. Whether ICE detained you or a family member, you may fear your lack of options to stay in Florida and face uncertainty about what to expect of the process to come.

The first step of a removal proceeding is to receive a Notice to Appear, or NTA, from ICE. This notice will list the reasons for your potential removal from the country and when to appear in court. This initial court date is known as the master calendar hearing and although it is a preliminary hearing, can be one of the most important components in fighting your removal from the U.S.

A typical master calendar hearing

A federal immigration judge conducts this initial hearing, with you, your attorney and an ICE attorney present. The judge will list the charges against you, while you admit or deny each one. You may also present a valid defense, or relief, against these charges.

While this hearing is brief, it sets the course for the rest of the removal proceeding. If a judge learns enough during this hearing about why you should be removed from the U.S., they may cut the entire process short. Likewise, the defense you present can offer you a stronger position at your next hearing.

Defense strategies or types of relief to consider

Presenting a valid form of relief to the charges you face can be challenging. Yet, the penalties of forgoing this step can be steep. Possible defense strategies can include:

  • Asylum. If applying for asylum, you must prove a valid fear of persecution, torture or more in your home country based on race, religion, political or social reasons and more.
  • Cancellation of removal. This requires proof of your residence in the U.S. for over ten years, good moral character and hardships that your removal would cause to loved ones.
  • Adjustment of status. This is the process to apply for a Green Card, or lawful permanent citizen status, through a family member who is a U.S. citizen.
  • Voluntary departure. While voluntary departure has spiked in recent months, it is generally a last resort for those who would rather leave on their own terms than face deportation.

Removal proceedings can be confusing and draining. Work with an immigration attorney to present the strongest possible defense for yourself from the start.