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Removal Proceedings

What does it mean to be in removal proceedings?

When the government has reasons to believe that a certain individual (an immigrant or non-immigrant) should not remain in the United States, the government initiates removal proceeding (also known as deportation proceedings). It is important to know that although the government may have initiated removal proceedings against an immigrant, the initiation of the removal proceedings does not automatically mean that the immigrant will be removed from the United States (or deported).

What is a Notice to Appear?

A Notice to Appear (NTA) is a document that starts the removal proceedings. When an immigrant receives the NTA, the government notifies the immigrant of the start of the removal proceedings. Furthermore, the NTA describes why the government believes that the immigrant should be removed/or deported from the United States. Finally, the NTA sets forth a day and time when the immigrant must appear before an Immigration Judge for his/her first hearing. The first hearing is called a master calendar hearing.

Who is subject to removal?

There are many reasons for which an individual can be placed in removal proceedings. There are times when long-time permanent residents who have spent most of their lives in the United States get placed in removal proceedings. If you are placed in removal proceedings, it is important to hire an immigration lawyer right away, so she/he can determine the why the government wants you to be removed from the United States. You can be subject to removal on criminal grounds, unlawful presence grounds, violation of immigrant or non-immigrant status, security related grounds, and many others.

What happens at the master calendar hearing?

During your first hearing before an immigration judge, you will either admit or deny the charges in the Notice to Appear. The charges are the reasons why the government believes you should be removed. In many cases, it is ok to admit the charges if they are true so you can move to the next stage – assert your defenses (Removal Defenses). In other case, you may deny the charges and make the government prove why they believe you should be removed.

What are my removal defenses?

The types of removal defenses you may have depend on your specific situation. You may be eligible for the following: adjustment of status, cancellation of removal, asylum, withholding of removal, citizenship, voluntary departure, etc. In order to plan a defense strategy, your lawyer should know all of the relevant facts. It is important that you share your story in detail. There are times when an immigrant may not know that he is eligible for certain immigration benefits. That's why it is best to discuss your situation in detail with your lawyer.