If you have an immigration case that is referred to the Immigration Court, then you’ve been rejected by the local office case worker. They have referred you to go before an immigration judge at the Immigration Court. For many cases arising out of Alabama, the Immigration Court will be in Atlanta.
The first notice you receive to appear will be a Master Calendar Hearing. This is much like an arraignment in criminal proceedings. This is the preliminary hearing before the immigration judge where both parties state a summary of their case. their intentions, and how much time they anticipate need for trial. The whole hearing may only take a few minutes, but you should be prepared to wait several hours.
It is highly advantageous to be represented by an attorney who is admitted to practice law before the immigration court. Please note, the are actually only a very small number of attorneys who are licensed to practice before the immigration court.
At the master calendar hearing, the court will set your case for a trial; also known as the Special Calendar Hearing. This will be the trial date. It’s not uncommon for this date to be several years into the future, especially for non-detained asylum cases. Detained asylum cases get first preference for trial dates – and the line isn’t getting any shorter.
So, if you have received notice to appear before the Immigration Court and it’s your first appearance, chances are you have nothing to sweat about. It will most likely be only a Master Calendar hearing – the actual trial will most likely be years into the future.
About the Author, Samuel J. McLure, Esq.
Sam graduated from Huntington College in 2006 with a degree in Business Administration. Before transferring to Huntington College, he attended Bethune-Cookman University as the first minority-white running back in the historically black conference.
He went on to Jones School of Law and graduated with honors, cum laude. During law school, Sam had the distinguished honor of serving with the Faulkner Law Review, clerking with Supreme Court Justice Patricia Smith, clerking with the Attorney General’s Office, and studying International Law with Cornell University in Paris, France.
However, Sam’s most memorable law school achievement was adopting his first child from the Hungarian foster-care system. It was through that process that he and his wife saw the great need to protect children in the foster care system and to encourage adoption.
Sam’s law practice has maintained an orbit around protecting vulnerable and at-risk children. He and his wife have four children and have been actively engaged in the foster care system. Sam is the author of The End of Orphan Care, and book devoted to unpacking the orthodoxy and orthopraxy of orphan care; and has founded or served with ministries and community outreach initiatives such as Kiwanis, Personhood Alabama, Proposal 16, and Sav-a-Life.