BOSTON IMMIGRATION COURT FAQ
The U.S. Immigration Courts have jurisdiction to conduct removal proceedings – the process by which the U.S. government attempts to remove an allegedly deportable foreign national. Immigration courts also have jurisdiction over bond hearings, asylum proceeding and rescission hearings.
WHAT IS A NOTICE TO APPEAR?
Removal proceedings are initiated when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) files a Notice to Appear (NTA) with the Immigration Court of jurisdiction. Subsequently, the DHS serves the NTA informing the individual of the nature of the proceedings, the alleged immigration law violation, the option of being represented by an attorney and the consequences of failing to appear at the hearing. It must also inform you of the time and place you have to appear before an Immigration Judge.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM GIVEN A NOTICE TO APPEAR AT THE IMMIGRATION COURT?
Once the NTA is filed with the proper Immigration Court, you (the respondent) will be scheduled for a Master Hearing, the first appearance before an Immigration Judge. This hearing must be set at least ten (10) days after service of the NTA, unless waived, so you have enough time to find an attorney and prepare their defenses.
AT THE MASTER HEARING:
You will be notified of the charges of removal against you;
You will be asked to concede proper service of the NTA;
You will be asked to enter pleadings to the charges against him/her;
You will be asked to designate a country of removal in the event that it becomes necessary; and
You can designate any form(s) of relief from removal that s/he will be seeking.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE MASTER HEARING?
Once you designate the relief from removal you are seeking, the Immigration Judge will schedule an Individual Hearing (trial). At the trial, you are given the opportunity to present evidence in support of your application and you may call on witnesses to testify your behalf.
At the end of the trial, the Immigration Judge will render a decision. You, as well as the government, have the right to appeal the decision at the Board of Immigration Appeals.
CAN YOU STAY IN THE UNITED STATES?
If the judge finds that you can be deported, you may have a defense to deportation and may be able to remain in the United States. If you don’t have a defense, the judge could order you be deported in the first hearing.
The Immigration Judge should tell you about the defenses to deportation and give you a date to file application forms and other papers with the court. You must file your application by the date given to you, if you do not, the Judge will say you have abandoned you case and will order you deported.
DO YOU NEED A LAWYER?
If you receive the NTA, it is strongly urged that you contact an attorney for legal assistance. The NTA often lists specific time and place to appear in court and you must attend that hearing or risk receiving an order of deportation in absentia (in your absence – by default).