All about Immigration Court

What is immigration court?

  1. The name of this court is called the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), and it is an agency under the authority of the Department of Justice. This is a separate court from your child welfare case.
  2. Immigration court, or EOIR, is a separate court from your child welfare case.  It is also called removal proceedings.  If you or your parents were issued a Notice to Appear, Form I-862, or a “charge sheet” when you came to the United States, you may have removal hearings in the future, even if you do not have any scheduled right now.
  3. The purpose of removal proceedings in immigration court is to see if you will be granted protection from deportation, also called immigration relief, or if you may need to leave the United States.
  4. You have the right to appeal most decisions made by the immigration to the Board of Immigration Appeals which means you can ask for it to be reviewed again if you do not agree with what happens.

Who are the people in immigration court?

  1. Immigration Judge (IJ): this person will listen to all of the information and make the final decision in your case
  2. Respondent: this is what the court or judge may call you, you are the person that the judge will decide can either stay or must leave the United States.
  3. Counsel for the Respondent or Respondent’s Counsel: this is your immigration attorney. This person represents you in court.
  4. Department of Homeland Security (DHS): sometimes also called “government counsel” or the “ICE attorney”, this person is the attorney for the government who will be asking the judge for you to leave the country and giving reasons why they believe this should happen.

What are my rights in immigration court?

  1. The best way to protect your rights in immigration court is to get an immigration attorney who can explain to the different options you have to stay in the United States and make sure that you have a fair hearing with the judge.
  2. In general, you have the following rights:
    • The right to have an attorney represent you, at no cost to the government (so the government will not pay for an immigration attorney)The right to examine the government’s evidence, give your own evidence, and cross-examine (or question) the government’s witnessesThe right to a complete record of all testimony and evidence in the case
    • The right to have an interpreter in your preferred language if you do not speak English to help you understand and participate, or be a part of, of your case.

How will I know when I have immigration court?

The immigration court will notify you of immigration court hearings by mail.  You must make sure your address is updated with the immigration court, so that you can know when you have hearings. Immigration court dates change frequently.  They may be moved up or postponed for a many reasons.

A picture of an adorable blue cartoon pit bull named Scrappy.

SCRAPPY TIP: Click HERE to update your address.

How can I find out if I have an immigration court date scheduled?

Immigration Court Hearing Information:

HERE is the link to check your hearing date and location online in English or Spanish You can also call the EOIR Hotline: 800-898-7180 or the immigration court that has your case.

What are the different types of hearings in immigration court?

  1. Master Calendar Hearings these hearings are to schedule the future hearing where the case will be discussed with evidence and witnesses. The court will have Master Calendar Hearings for multiple people in a single morning or afternoon session so you may see a lot of people in the courtroom. These hearings are open for anyone to attend. You or your attorney may ask the judge before or during the hearing to close it for privacy reasons, such as to protect you. Hearings involving abused children should be closed to the public[2].
  2. Individual Calendar Hearings these hearings are where the evidence will be discussed and your attorney will fight for you to stay in the United States and the government attorney may give reasons why you should return to your home country. Although immigration hearings are open to the public, there is often only one individual hearing scheduled at a time, so the courtroom will not have as many people there as the Master Calendar Hearings 

Immigration Checklist

Check your Hearing Date and Time.  You have to attend your court hearing even if you have school, unless the judge gives you permission not to or agrees to reschedule it.
Immigration Court Address
Where to Park or How to Get There
If you will bring a support person
Bring ID if possible and court charge sheet (Notice to Appear I-862)
Be prepared to ask for your preferred language and insist on an interpreter in your best langauge
Be prepared to state your name and date of birth and current address
Be prepared to ask the court for time to find an attorney
Be prepared to identify your attorney, if you have one
If you do not feel comfortable answering a question because of others in the courtroom, you can ask the judge to clear the courtroom for privacy
 Make sure you have your calendar and can tell the judge if you will be available on a future hearing date

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