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Immigration Court Proceedings


Persons who are alleged to be in the United States unlawfully may be placed into immigration proceedings so that a judge can determine whether they should be removed (deported) from the United States. Immigration proceedings are legal proceedings with extremely serious consequences including, potentially, removal (deportation) from the United States and a bar on immigration benefits for ten or more years. Many aliens who are here in the United States, even if they entered illegally, have relief available to them in the immigration courts. However, immigration laws are complex and detailed, and each person’s situation is unique; the courts will not generally inform you of forms of relief for which you may be eligible.

The attorneys at the Greater Boston Immigration Law Firm of Altman and Altman LLP have a thorough knowledge of the immigration laws, and a thorough understanding of the immigration court system. We can assist you to get the best possible outcome in your case.

Initiation of Removal Proceedings

Removal proceedings can be initiated when the Department of Homeland Security charges an alien with being in the United States illegally. The first step towards immigration proceedings begins when the alien has been properly served with a Notice to Appear which lays out the specific charges against the alien and the law under which the Department of Homeland Security is seeking to remove the alien. The immigration proceedings will actually begin when that properly served Notice to Appear has been filed with the Immigration Court. The Notice to Appear may or may not contain the date of the first hearing; if it does not, a Notice of Hearing with the time and date of the hearing will come in the mail.

Master Calendar Hearing

The first appearance before a judge in immigration proceedings is a Master Calendar Hearing. A Master Calendar Hearing is a short hearing (typically only lasting 5-15 minutes in front of the actual judge) in which the court accepts your pleadings (a paper informing the court that you have been informed of your rights, that you concede or deny the charges, that you concede or deny the charge of removability, and what forms of relief you will be requesting). Typically, scheduling for the rest of the trial also occurs during a Master Calendar Hearing. Where the form of relief will not require a lengthy trial, the judge may also hold a short trial and give a decision on relief.

Individual Calendar Hearing

If the form of relief the alien is requesting requires a longer hearing, an Individual Calendar Hearing is scheduled. An Individual Calendar Hearing can last anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours depending on the type of case. It often requires testimony from multiple witnesses, a review of the documentary evidence which was submitted to the court, and arguments from both sides regarding any legal or factual challenges.

Detained Hearings / Bond Hearings

When an alien is arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), they may be detained (the immigration equivalent of bail). When an alien is detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a bond may either be set at a high amount or may not be granted at all, meaning the alien must remain in detention. Hearings for detained aliens are generally concluded at a much more rapid pace, meaning pleadings, requests for relief, and decisions on requests for relief generally come within two months (although certain circumstances may extend this).

If bond has not been set, or bond has been set at a very high amount, the alien may be eligible to request a bond hearing in front of an immigration judge. The immigration judge will consider several factors when considering whether to grant or lower bond. Circumstances may make the alien ineligible for a bond hearing, however, including convictions for certain crimes or the existence of an outstanding deportation or removal order. If there is an outstanding order of deportation or removal, the alien may be able to reopen their immigration proceedings.

The attorneys at the Massachusetts Law Firm of Altman and Altman, LLP have extensive experience in immigration proceedings, including bond hearings, and can tell you whether you have relief available to you. If you or a loved one has been arrested and detained by immigration, we can assist you to get the best possible outcome.

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