If you are a non-citizen facing deportation, or an attorney with a non-citizen client who may be deported, this article will cover a few key terms so that you may respond appropriately to government notices.
Notice to Appear
The government will issue a Notice to Appear (NTA) to request you appear before an immigration judge. It will be mailed to you if you are facing deportation. You are responsible for letting the government know where you live. If the notice is mailed to a wrong address because you have not updated your new address in the record, you are responsible, not the government.
According to the law, service by mail is sufficient proof the government attempted to deliver the NTA. After you receive the NTA it is important to meet with an attorney and discuss the facts in the notice. It is possible that the government may have written something that is incorrect.
Master Calendar Hearings
A master calendar hearing is an individual’s first appearance before an Immigration Judge. Most hearings are what the immigration court calls “master calendar hearings.” The purpose of the master calendar is to inform. The judge will advise you of your rights, explain the charges filed, take in information. If required, the judge will identify the factual and legal issues. Then, set deadlines for filing any papers needed for a new hearing.
So that you may have the opportunity to get legal advice on this notice, the law requires 10 days to elapse between service of the NTA and the first removal hearing. Once the 10 days have elapsed, the government is free to pursue a removal hearing regardless of whether you have legal representation.