The Master Calendar Hearing & Why it is important
“Even though the Master Calendar hearing is only a few minutes long, it will determine the outcome of the entire case and the path you will take in Immigration Court..”
— Brian D. Lerner, Immigration Lawyer
During the master calendar hearing (MCH) the Immigration Judge will review the charges against the immigrant and ask him or her to admit or deny each one. The judge will also: … Set the date of the individual merits hearing (where the immigrant will present arguments, witnesses and other evidence).
Everyone with an immigration court case should receive a Notice to Appear. … If you have a Notice to Appear, the Immigration Judge will ask you if it contains correct information. If you tell the Judge the information is correct, the Judge will order you deported unless you have a defense to deportation.
How to Prepare for Your MCH
You will first receive a Notice to Appear (“NTA”), which will specify the date and place of your MCH. Under normal circumstances (without any COVID-19 adjustments), you must personally attend your MCH, even if your lawyer attends as well.
You may bring family members with you to the court. Make sure that they have legal immigration status. Otherwise, they may be arrested. It is not a good idea to bring children. Dress appropriately, in clean, neat, relatively conservative clothes.
Arrive on time at your MCH. If you are absent, or even late, you could be ordered deported “in absentia” (due to your absence). Or, the IJ might deny your legal claims or defenses. Arriving early is a particularly wise idea because going through a federal security checkpoint can take a while.
Try to find out ahead of time how your local immigration court operates. Bring important documents with you: your identification documents (passports, a driving license), your NTA (or another “hearing notice” that directed you to come to court), and any original documents that might be helpful at this preliminary stage (based on your lawyer’s suggestion). Also bring your personal calendar, because the IJ will schedule deadlines in your case.
During a typical MCH, you will be before the IJ for about five to 20 minutes only, although you might be in court for several hours (including time to check in and wait). Plan accordingly.
Forms of Relief
At the Master Calendar Hearing in a deportation case, the Immigration Judge will ask what relief you will be seeking in the event that the Immigration Judge finds you removable. In that case, there are several forms of relief in the deportation hearing which are available. They could include adjustment of status, registry, cancellation of removal for lawful permanent residents, cancellation of removal for non permanent residents, asylum, convention against torture, 212(c), withholding of removal, various waivers, citizenship or termination of proceedings.
Don’t Admit to the allegations of crimes. It is the burden of U.S. Immigration to prove you are inadmissible because of those crimes. It is not your burden to admit to the crime.Brian Lerner Deportation Lawyer