Legal Notice for Immigration Court Proceedings
If you are a non-citizen, or an attorney with a non-citizen client, this article will cover a few key terms so that you may respond appropriately after receiving a notice from the government to appear in immigration court for a hearing on your immigration matter.
Notice to AppearA Notice to Appear (NTA) is issued to bring you or your client before an immigration judge. Service by mail is sufficient if there is proof the government attempted to deliver the NTA to the last address provided. After receiving the NTA it is important to meet with an attorney and discuss the factual allegations presented in it. It is possible that the government may have alleged facts that are not accurate.
Removal AttorneySo that you may have the opportunity to secure counsel, the law requires 10 days to elapse between service of the NTA and the first removal hearing. Once the 10 days have elapsed, the government is free to pursue a removal hearing regardless of whether you have legal representation.
Your RightsImmigration is a civil matter, not a criminal matter. The government needs a warrant signed by a court - not an administrative agency - to search your property. You do not have to say anything to an immigration enforcement officer. If you speak on the record, everything you say will be detailed in your file and later this may come in as evidence in court.
Master Calendar HearingsThe first scheduled hearings are what the court calls "master calendar hearings." A master calendar hearing is an individual's first appearance before an Immigration Judge. During your first hearing before the judge, you can either agree with the charges the government is raising against you or dispute them. After that, another follow-up hearing will be scheduled to review your case in more detail. The purpose of the master calendar hearing is to advise individuals of their rights, explain the removal charges filed, take pleadings, identify and attempt to narrow the factual and legal issues, and set deadlines for filing any papers needed for subsequent hearings.