Facing an individual hearing in immigration court is a critical juncture for any immigrant undergoing removal proceedings in the United States. This hearing, akin to a trial, determines whether the individual will be allowed to stay in the country or face deportation. Typically, there is only one individual hearing, but in certain circumstances, additional hearings might be necessary to address legal nuances, present new evidence, or handle emergencies.
The Crucial Preparation
Before the individual hearing, thorough preparation is key. One of the most vital aspects is understanding the relief options available and being adequately prepared. Unfortunately, many individuals are unaware of the relief they might qualify for, missing opportunities like immigrant waivers, cancellation of removal, NACARA, or VAWA-based relief. Even if one is aware of a specific relief, detailed discussions with the attorney are crucial. Understanding the requirements, strength of the case, and potential challenges is essential. Importantly, the evaluation of available relief may change over time due to personal circumstances or legal alterations.
Relief Options to Consider
Consult with an attorney to determine eligibility for various reliefs, including immigrant/non-immigrant waivers, cancellation of removal, VAWA cancellation, U visa, T visa, asylum, withholding of removal, CAT, adjustment of status, NACARA relief, TPS, DACA, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, VAWA, deferred action, private bills, voluntary departure, and re-adjustment of status.
Punctuality and Preparation
Preparation should commence from the moment you receive the Notice to Appear. Gathering relevant documents, support letters, and country conditions information is essential. Regular consultations with your attorney are necessary to ensure all necessary materials are collected and submitted in a timely manner. Each case has a final deadline (CALL UP DATE) by which all documents must be submitted to the court and opposing counsel.
The Day of the Trial
On the day of the trial, arrive promptly and neatly dressed. Avoid bringing documents on the trial day unless they became available after the submission deadline. The trial will involve the judge reviewing the admitted evidence, discussions about case issues, and examinations of witnesses. Both direct and cross-examinations are crucial aspects of the trial, requiring strategic handling by your attorney.
The Judge’s Decision
Following the presentation of evidence and arguments, the Immigration Judge will render a decision, either orally or in writing. If the decision is not favorable, there is a 30-day window to file an appeal. Being prepared, understanding available reliefs, and working closely with a knowledgeable attorney are your best assets in navigating the complexities of an individual hearing. Stay informed, be proactive, and face the process with confidence.