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A Notice to Appear is your first indication that the U.S. government is starting removal proceedings against you. The Notice will specify what immigration charges you are facing as well as where and when you will need to attend Orlando immigration court.

Immigration court is where your case will be heard. In Orlando, immigration court is held at 3535 Lawton Road, Suite 200 Orlando, FL 32803. The court phone number is 407-722-8900.

The following judges oversee deportation and removal proceedings in Orlando immigration court:

Kevin Chapman

Victoria L. Ghartey

Stuart F. Karden

Daniel Lippman

Philip J. Montante, Jr.

Rafael B. Ortiz-Segura

What To Expect At The Master Hearing

The Master Hearing or Master Calendar Hearing is your first appearance in immigration court. This is a short, preliminary hearing in front of the judge and government attorney who will review the charges against you and determine how your case will move forward. You will have to admit to or deny each charge but this is not your chance to defend yourself and no rulings will be given. It is simply a procedural meeting to set the deportation proceedings in motion. Here’s what you need to know about the Master Hearing:

It is extremely important to attend the Master Hearing. Even though this hearing is only procedural, it is vitally important that you attend. Ignoring your Notice to Appear will harm your chances of remaining in the U.S.

You may be there for a long time. Although you will only meet with the judge for as little as five or ten minutes, you may be waiting to be seen for several hours. This is because there will be many more people scheduled for their Master Hearing on the same date and time. In fact, expect other people to be in the courtroom with you. When the judge is ready to examine your case, he or she will call you by your Alien Registration Number and your name. You and your immigration attorney will then be able to step forward and speak to the judge.

You may need to bring documentation. Ask your attorney what documents to bring to the hearing. You will likely need to bring: identification documents such as passports and/or a drivers’ license and your Notice to Appear, but your immigration attorney may recommend additional documents.

An interpreter will be made available for you. If you have trouble speaking and/or understanding English, ask for an interpreter. Trying to communicate in a language you don’t understand can cause confusion and misinformation.

You will be able to ask for relief. You will be able to tell the judge what forms of relief you are seeking, such as asylum, withdrawal of removal, etc. You should discuss with your attorney ahead of time what form of relief to request.

Dates will be set. Dates will be scheduled for your individual hearing and for the submission of written documents related to your case. You must meet all of the deadlines the judge sets so be sure that the timeframe specified gives you enough time to gather the necessary documents and meet with an immigration lawyer, if you don’t already have one.

You will be scheduled for an Individual Hearing. At the end of the Master Hearing, you will receive another Notice to Appear. This one will be for your Individual Hearing.

What To Expect At The Individual Hearing

The individual hearing is also called the Merits Hearing or the Individual Merits Hearing. This is when you will have an opportunity to present your arguments against removal before the immigration judge. This is also the hearing where the judge will make his or her final decision regarding deportation. Here’s what you need to know about the Individual Hearing:

You will be able to present your arguments. You should have already claimed a defense to the charges against you at the Master Hearing. Now, you will present your evidence, arguments, and witnesses in support of this claim for relief and explain why you should be allowed to remain in the U.S.

Expect questions and a cross-examination. The attorney representing the U.S. government will present a case against you. He or she will also be allowed to cross-examine your witnesses, if you have any.

It may go longer than a day. The individual hearing can last a few hours to a few days, depending on the evidence that needs to be presented. If the case goes past the first hearing date, the judge will schedule a second hearing date.

A final decision will be made. The immigration judge will issue a decision on your case at the conclusion of your individual hearing.

Appeals are allowed. If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you are allowed to file an appeal. The appeal must be filed with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) within 30 days of the judge’s decision. 

Why You Should Hire An Immigration Lawyer

Deportation defense is a lengthy and complicated process. There are a great many procedures that must be followed, deadlines to meet, and evidence to collect – and that doesn’t even take into account presenting the actual defense of your situation! These issues are made even more difficult if you have trouble understanding English.

Hiring an experienced Orlando immigration attorney is the best way to present the strongest defense against deportation. An attorney will be able to navigate the legal system, keep you informed about the status of your case, and build your defense. Our Orlando immigration law firm is 100% dedicated to U.S. immigration cases and has been specializing in this area of law for over 18 years. We offer free consultations and handle all types of removal cases.

If you have received a Notice to Appear or have been placed in deportation proceedings, contact The Law Offices of Gail Seeram in Orlando via TEXT or CALL 407-292-7730 to schedule a free consultation immediately.