IMMIGRATION COURT: WHAT NOW? WILL I BE DEPORTED? (FAQs)
I have been summoned to Immigration Court? What if I just don't show up?
Don't even think of it. If you miss your hearing, you will be ordered REMOVED IN ABSENTIA. In other words, you will be ordered deported in your absence. It is extremely important to show up and even arrive early in order to avoid being deported in your absence.
What typically happens at the first hearing?
The first hearing is known as a Master Calendar Hearing. If you come alone to your first master calendar hearing, it is likely that you be given an opportunity to return with an attorney. The most important thing to remember is to appear and to arrive early.
If you are in court, you have been served with a charging document known as a Notice To Appear which contains certain allegations. You need to respond to those allegations. In most cases, the government is alleging that you do not have the right to be in the United States.
How long will the entire process last?
The process can last several months and sometimes several years. If you live in a city like Los Angeles where the court calendars are crowded, the Immigration Judge may set several "individual" cases on the same day. As a result, your case may not get heard for a long time.
What are common defenses to the charge of removability?
It depends on your situation. If you have been a lawful permanent resident for many years, you may be able to apply for Cancellation of Removal for Lawful Permanent Residents. This involves showing that there are more favorable factors than unfavorable factors in your case. In other words, you will need to prove that it would be better for all concerned that you be permitted to remain in the United States.
What if I am not a Lawful Permanent Resident?
If you are not a Lawful Permanent Resident but have been residing in the United States for over 10 years and have close relatives that are either American citizens of Lawful Permanent Residents, you may be able to apply for Cancellation of Removal for Non Lawful Permanent Residents. In order to prevail, you will need to demonstrate that your removal would cause "exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to your "qualifying relative," i.e your close relative who is an American citizen or green card holder.
What about asylum?
Another common form of relief in immigration court is asylum. This involves showing that if you had to return to your country, you would be persecuted because of your race, religion, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. It is possible to obtain asylum by showing a well founded fear of future persecution or in some cases past persecution.
Please keep in mind that the information on this page is highly general and should not be relied upon as legal advice. It is important to seek an experienced immigration attorney if you have been summoned to immigration court.