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Deportation & Immigration Court

Most immigrants living in the United States, whether legal or illegal, fear being placed in deportation proceeding. When family members call my office because their love ones are being detained by immigration, they think deportation will occur within 24 hours. This is not true. The deportation process can take months if not years. When immigration officials detain you, they try to have you waive your judicial hearing and opt for expedited deportation by signing a piece of paper. I always advise clients not to waive their right to a judicial hearing and not to sign the consent form opting for expedited deportation.
If you are detained by immigration officials or are issued a notice of hearing to appear in immigration court, then you will have mandatory court appearances in immigration court. If you have received a notice of hearing, you must appear in immigration court. If you fail to appear in immigration court, then the immigration judge will issue an “in-abstentia order” for your deportation – meaning in your absence the immigration judge will automatically issue a final order for your deportation. This means you will not get another opportunity to see an immigration judge and your deportation will occur promptly. When final orders of deportation are issued because of failure to appear in immigration court, then immigration officials will come to your home or work to apprehend you and start the deportation process.

It is to your benefit to appear in immigration court before the immigration judge. Our office has represented thousands of immigrants in immigration court and has been successful in getting them to remain in the United States. There are many options under the immigration laws where a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) or an undocumented immigrant can apply to stay in the United States even if in deportation proceedings in immigration court.

The key to winning your immigration court case is to retain an immigration lawyer with immigration court experience and knowledge of the immigration laws. The first immigration court hearing you are required to attend is called the “master hearing”. At the master hearing, you will confirm to the immigration judge your name, address and that you received the notice of hearing and the notice to appear. Thereafter, your immigration lawyer will then address the immigration judge and admit or deny the factual allegations in your removal case and either admit or deny that you are deportable under the listed immigration law. Next, the immigration judge will ask what relief or waiver you will be seeking. Once a waiver or relief from deportation is identified, then the immigration judge will set an individual hearing, which is like a mini-trial. At the individual hearing, the immigrant lawyer will present oral testimony from the immigrant and other qualifying relatives and also present written testimony for the immigration judge and government attorney to consider in making their decision.

Based on the experience of your immigration lawyer, he/she will should be able to recognize whether you qualify for any of the following waivers or reliefs under the immigration law: cancellation of removal, 212(c) waiver, 212(h) waiver, 212(i) waiver, adjustment of status, 245(i), prosecutorial discretion-deferred action, asylum, withholding of removal, convention against torture, voluntary departure, or administrative closure.

If the immigration judge decides you and your immigration lawyer have met the legal burden in your immigration case, then he/she will grant you lawful permanent resident status or allow you to retain your current lawful permanent resident status. If the immigration judge decides you don’t qualify for the relief or waiver, then the immigration judge will issue a final order of deportation. In this case, you will have 30 days to file an appeal of the immigration judge’s decision. In ALL case, I advise to file an appeal to the immigration judge decision.

So, as you can see the immigration court process once you are in deportation proceedings is not simple and certainly not quick. The second hearing, individual hearing, can take one year to be scheduled. However, if you are being detained in a detention center, then the immigration court speeds up the immigration court process but it can still take three months from your first appearance, master hearing, to your last appearance, individual hearing.

The only way you can win in immigration court is to hire an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer such as immigration lawyer Gail Seeram. She has an excellent reputation with the immigration judges and has been practicing in immigration court for over fifteen (15) years. Many clients will affirm and agree that immigration lawyer Gail Seeram has a genuine passion for helping immigrants and winning their immigration court cases.

Question #1: I was deported from the U.S. after seeing an immigration judge. Is their any chance for me to return to the U.S.?
Answer #1: First, you need to see how long you are banned from returning to the U.S. Second, if there is a change in the laws, an immigration lawyer may be able to file a motion to reopen your immigration court case and reverse the final order of deportation. Lastly, if you have a U.S. spouse, child over age 21, parent or sibling, they can file a family-based immigration petition for you and you would need to file a waiver seeking re-entry once the immigrant visa is available.

Question #2: Do I have a right to a free immigration lawyer to represent me in immigration court?
Answer #2: No, unlike criminal court, you do not have a right to a free immigration lawyer. The immigration court will provide a list to you of free immigration providers but most of those listed charge a fee for legal services.

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