What is a Master Calendar Hearing and What Can I Expect?
Generally in many immigration courts around the country, a Master Calendar hearing will be relatively short once your case is actually called by the court. This hearing will generally last no more than fifteen (15) minutes and your attorney will do most of the communicating.
The Master Calendar Hearing is set for the purpose of discussing your legal options and to schedule a future hearing date. The judge will probably ask you a few basic questions at the very beginning, such as your full name, if you need an interpreter, what your current address and phone number is, and whether your attorney is in fact authorized to represent you and be your attorney. Again, aside from these few basic biographical questions, your attorney will do all of the communication with the court.
At this hearing you will not have the opportunity to call witnesses, nor will you be asked specific details of your case, and the judge will not make a decision on your case if you are asking that the court enter specific relief. Many other individuals in immigration proceedings will be present. Again, the purpose of this hearing is to meet with the government attorneys, and plan for your main hearing, or individual hearing.
It is important that you are prepared and on time for your hearing. If you are not present or if you arrive late, you may be deported by the judge even though you are not present, and any bond you may have paid will be lost. Be prepared to be at court for as long as three hours or more depending on the judge's calendar.
If you speak English relatively well, we recommend you speak in English. The hearings go much faster and you make a better impression on the judge if you can speak English. If you need an interpreter, you have a legal right to one. The court will provide an interpreter in your native language at no expense to you. However, you cannot bring your own interpreter. If you are using the court interpreter, do not answer in English, do not answer before the interpretation is complete, and look at the person asking you the question, or look at the judge, do not look at the interpreter, while testifying and answering questions.
As support, you may bring family members who have legal immigration status, such as a spouse or friends, but often times they will not be allowed to enter the courtroom with you. Do not bring young children.
It is extremely important that if you are released on a bond, that you carry a copy of the bond determination and your most recent Notice of Hearing. At this stage, you will be legally permitted to be in the United States until there is a final order of removal against you.