Master Calendar Hearing

As indicated in previous blogs, the first step in a removal proceeding is a Master Calendar Hearing.

This hearing is typically a short preliminary hearing and is usually recognized as the beginning step in the process of removal. This hearing and all other proceedings in the removal proceeding are scheduled by the immigration court, not Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE). Notices of all hearings will come directly from the immigration court; they will not come from ICE. Therefore, it is unlikely that notice of a hearing will trigger an I-340 surrender demand under the terms of the immigration bond. This fact does not mean, however, that the alien can ignore a hearing notice. Doing so will almost certainly result in an in absentia order of removal. If the alien had retained an attorney who had filed the requisite paperwork with the immigration court, the court will send hearing notices to the attorney as well. At this initial hearing, the immigration judge will normally explain the nature of the charges in the Notice To Appear (NTA), identify the issues presented, and set a schedule for the filing of any motions or applications for relief. Again, if at all possible, the alien should retain an attorney to represent him/her at both this initial Master Calendar Hearing and all future ones. An immigration attorney will help the alien and their family best navigate the complex immigration system. It is beyond the scope of this blog to offer advice on the various defenses and form of relief available to an alien in a removal proceeding. Thus, the assistance of an attorney can be invaluable.    

Author: Doug Wood

Mr. Wood grew up in the Tidewater (Norfolk/Virginia Beach) area of Virginia. After earning a BA in History from the College of William and Mary in 1963, he attended the Naval Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. He received his commission in March, 1964, and went on the serve five years on active duty. He then enrolled in the Marshall-Wythe School of Law at William and Mary, and graduated in 1972. Mr. Wood spent his legal career with a variety of federal government agencies. The last 11 of this were with the (then) Immigration and Naturalization Service. For the last five of these years he was the lead attorney on all matters relating to immigration bonds. Upon his retirement in 2001, he began a career as a consultant to a number of immigration bond companies. Although retired from the bar, he continues to provide consulting services to immigration bond companies around the country.

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