Removal proceedings constitute an administrative process, the primary objective of which is to decide whether a foreign individual may be deported or “removed” under United States immigration law. These proceedings are generally held in an immigration court. An alien may qualify for one of several types of immigration relief if he or she has met all the corresponding requirements. This article aims to provide an overview of US deportation removal proceedings and explain why proper removal and deportation defense is essential for a successful case.
The Deportation Process
Deportation proceedings are often a cause of significant stress for many immigrants. This process may appear less daunting if an alien learn all the steps that make up removal proceedings. Here is a close analysis of the three primary stages of the deportation process: a Notice to Appear (NTA), the Master Hearing, and the Merits Hearing.
Receiving A Notice To Appear In Court
A Notice to Appear is the document that marks the beginning of deportation proceedings against a foreign individual. This document typically indicates the date on which you are scheduled to appear before the immigration court. The NTA also lists the charges that the U.S. Government has brought against the immigrant in question. It is always important for the alien to carefully review all the allegations listed in the NTA to make sure that he/she fully understands them and that there are no errors in the document. The immigration judge who presides over the removal hearing also generally receives the Notice to Appear, as the Notice to Appear is filed with the immigration court upon the initiation of removal proceedings.
Master Hearing Is Conducted
A master calendar hearing is a short, preliminary hearing that is held to determine how an immigration case will proceed. This stage of removal proceedings may include pleading to the Notice to Appear, submissions of evidence, and the scheduling of the subsequent merits hearing, which is held to address the more substantive aspects of an immigration case.
Legal claims are generally not considered and official rulings are not made during a master hearing; nonetheless, it depends on the nature of your case, the immigration judge presiding over your case, and where you are in the process. In order to begin the master calendar hearing, an immigration judge will typically call the foreign individual by his/her name and Alien Registration Number. Immigrants who have difficulty with English should consult with their attorney and seek assistance from an interpreter if necessary.
Merits Hearing Is Conducted
The merits hearing represents the phase of deportation proceedings during which the immigrant and the federal government present their respective arguments against and in favor of removal from the U.S. Before this hearing, the alien should decide which type of immigration relief he/she is interested in pursuing (asylum, adjustment of status, cancellation of removal, etc.). The immigrant must also provide his/her application for relief and any other important documents to the court in advance of the hearing and pay all associated fees.
Similarly to other types of legal cases, the evidence is presented and witnesses are often called during a merits hearing. Following all witness testimonies, the immigrant and his/her attorney are allowed to deliver a closing statement that addresses why the alien qualifies for the type of relief he/she has applied for. The government attorney may also make a closing statement.
If an immigration judge denies an alien’s application for relief from deportation, the applicant may be eligible to appeal this decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) within 30 days of the decision’s date. In certain rare cases, an immigrant may request that the judge reopen his/her case after the final decision has been made if he/she has found new evidence that is key to the case. However, this type of motion may not be filed if the alien has already appealed the decision to the BIA.
Contact Knowledgeable Immigration Law Attorneys
Reach out to the experienced immigration law attorneys at Johnson & Masumi, PC in Vienna, Virginia for more information on the various stages of removal proceedings. We are dedicated to serving clients located throughout Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. We never hesitate to take on even the most complex cases.
The team at Johnson & Masumi knows that deportation proceedings are a very stressful process for many immigrants. Therefore, we can carefully review each case and determine whether there is a strong and legitimate legal defense available to you. Although you may educate yourself on this process, it is significantly more beneficial for you to hire an experienced and licensed immigration attorney. Studies show that immigrants who have legal representation often have a higher probability of success with their cases.
We can help you obtain several types of immigration relief, including asylum, cancellation of removal, and Convention Against Torture (CAT) Protections. Call Johnson & Masumi today at (703) 688-8279 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.