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One of the different types of hearing in the United States is the individual hearing in Immigration Court. We will explain this topic in detail below.

Immigration matters before the United States Immigration Court require experienced legal representation. Therefore, do not hesitate to contact our immigration lawyers in New Jersey at Curbelo Law. These cases must be dealt with immediately, as time is of the essence.

What Is and What to expect in An Individual Hearing In Immigration Court?

Generally, the individual hearing is the final hearing an alien has regarding their case before the Immigration Court. In this last hearing, the immigration judge makes the decision on whether to grant or deny an application for immigration relief. 

  • Generally speaking, the individual hearing is the second hearing in alien immigration cases.
  • In addition, at this hearing, after an application for immigration relief has been submitted, the alien will have the opportunity to:
    • Testify.
    • Submit the evidence. 
    • Submit legal arguments.
    • Examine witnesses.
  • The alien must explain to the judge why he should grant immigration relief.
  • Frequently, the individual hearing in Immigration Court is long and can take a few hours.
alien on individual immigration hearing

Types Of Hearings In Immigration Court

Usually, there are three different types of hearings in the US Immigration Court. These are:

1# Bond Hearing

At a bond hearing, the detained aliens asks the judge to release them from detention while their immigration case is pending. For this to occur, the alien must post an immigration bond.

  • During a bond hearing, the alien can submit evidence to the court showing that they are not a flight risk or a danger to the community.
  • The immigration judge will consider all the evidence submitted, including the following:
    • If you have legal permanent residence (Green Card).
    • The amount of time you have resided in the US.
    • If you have family ties in the US.
    • Any pre-hearing convictions.
    • The employment history.
  • Detained aliens only have one opportunity to submit their case in front of an immigration judge. However, it is possible to file again if your circumstances change.

It must be taken into account that:

  1. Not all aliens are eligible to receive an immigration bond. 
  2. Bail is not available for some asylum seekers who have recently arrived in the US.
  3. It is also not available to certain aliens with criminal convictions.

2# Master Calendar Hearing

The master calendar hearing is the first hearing an alien has before the Immigration Court. Generally, these hearings are short and consist of a few questions asked by the immigration judge to the immigrant.

  • During these hearings, it is important that the alien has an immigration lawyer. This is because by admitting any accusation, you would be admitting that the government can legally deport you. 
  • In these hearings, the aliens can correct with the judge any wrong information regarding their person.
  • Additionally, the judge will ask the aliens if they intend to request any form of immigration relief. If you request one, one of the following scenarios may occur:
    • Alien submits their application for immigration relief at that time, or
    • The immigration judge may set another master calendar hearing to give the immigrant more time to complete their application.
  • If the alien does not wish to apply for any form of immigration relief, they can request voluntary departure from the US or be deported during their master calendar hearing.

Immigrants may have more than one master calendar hearing. Therefore, our attorney Carolina T. Curbelo will be able to help you throughout this process.

Immigrants can expect to receive a Notice of Hearing document for the Immigration Court. This document tells you when and where your next hearing will be. In addition, it indicates what type of immigration hearing will take place.

3# Individual Hearing In The Immigration Court

As we mentioned at the beginning of our blog, generally, the individual hearing is the last hearing before the immigration judge.  

  • Although this individual hearing is considered the “last hearing,” it will not necessarily be the last hearing. 
  • Immigration judges often decide the outcome of the immigrant’s case during the first individual hearing. This occurs after the aliens has given their testimony and submitted all the evidence in their case.
  • However, some immigration judges set a certain date for another date after the individual hearing.
  • On some occasions, it is possible for the immigrant and their attorney to receive their case decision by mail. Therefore, you will not need to go to another individual hearing.
  • Even if immigrants lose their case, it does not mean the end of their journey. If a judge denies the request for relief, it is possible to appeal the decision. To learn more about this, check our article on how to appeal an immigration case decision.

Before going to any scheduled hearing, you should check the automated case site for information about the case. This is done to ensure that the hearing date has not been moved.

What Happens At The Individual Hearing In Immigration Court In An Asylum Case?

If an asylum case has been referred to the Immigration Court by USCIS after the self-initiated application (affirmative application) was filed, then the court will have:

  1. A copy of the asylum application, and
  2. Support materials.

However, if you are applying for political asylum for the first time while you are in deportation proceedings, you must file the asylum application with the Immigration Court.

types of hearings in immigration court

Filing For Asylum With The Immigration Court

In the event that an alien has not filed an affirmative asylum application, the materials must be submitted before the date set by the Immigration Judge during the immigration master calendar hearing.

  • If this is the first time an immigrant files Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, they must do so within one year of arrival in the US.
  • You must submit all supporting documents along with a certificate of service (COS).
    • This certificate is a short form showing that you gave the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) trial attorney a copy of the submission.
  • Immigrants have several options for applying. As a result, it can be filed by mail, by courier, at the court window, or at the public hearing. 

Asylum Filing Considerations

If an immigrant has already filed an asylum application, they may want to upgrade it. To do this, they must:

  1. File an amended Form I-589, and
  2. Any additional supporting documents or witness statements that the immigration judge considers.

It is critical to ensure that the information you submit on the I-589 is consistent from the previous submission. Any inconsistencies could lead the immigration judge to doubt your credibility. 

  • In these cases it is essential to have a good lawyer, which will increase the chances of obtaining asylum. Typically, attorneys may include a presentation of a legal “brief.”
  • The legal brief (also known as a memorandum of law) outlines the strongest legal elements of the claim.
  • During the deadline determined by the immigration judge, a list of witnesses, the time they plan to testify, and the language the witnesses will speak must be submitted. 

What Happens During An Individual Hearing?

Generally, during an individual hearing the following occurs:.

  1. If the immigrant has an attorney, the attorney will first make an opening statement. This statement will summarize why the immigration judge should grant the immigrant asylum.
  2. The immigrant will be “sworn in” (that is, they must promise to tell the truth) and their attorney will question them about their story. It is important that the alien is always honest, details the circumstances and is consistent with the answers.
  3. After the aliens have finished telling their story, the DHS trial attorney will ask them a few questions about their application. These questions will be to test their “credibility”.
  4. Later, you will have the opportunity to call witnesses.
  5. Finally, the attorney will make a brief closing statement at the conclusion of the hearing. This will address any doubts that the judge has and will emphasize the reason why the immigrant should have their immigration relief.

In the event that the judge denies the application, the immigrant and their attorney can appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals within 30 days of the decision.

Individual hearings can take several hours and even several separate hearings can be scheduled. This all depends on the amount of information that the immigrant and the DHS trial attorney have.

How Can We Help You With Your Individual Hearing In Immigration Court?

As we have seen throughout this blog, the individual hearing in the Immigration Court is the final hearing of the immigrant. As a result, the judge will take the evidence provided and decide whether or not the immigrant will be deported.

Hopefully, the aliens will not receive a deportation order . However, this requires solid help from an experienced immigration attorney. Our lawyer has extensive knowledge in these matters.

Call us today to our office in Ridgewood, New Jersey to discuss your situation, as time is of the essence in these scenarios.