The Master Calendar Hearing is a summons by which immigrants are called to attend the Immigration Court for a preliminary hearing.

What is a preliminary hearing in the Immigration Court?

The Master Calendar Hearing takes place when an immigrant receives a Notice to Appear, also known as the NTA. In this letter, the immigrant is informed on the date and time when they shall appear before an Immigration Court. In the majority of cases, this means that a deportation process has been initiated against them.

There are two types of hearings in the Immigration Court which take place before an Immigration Judge: the Master Calendar and the Individual Hearing.

For the latter, witnesses and documents are presented in order to defend the immigrant’s case, which is something that does not take place at the Master Calendar Hearing. You must not confuse these types of hearings since they are different, and you must prepare for each of them in a different way.

What takes place at a Master Calendar Hearing before an Immigration Judge?   

What is the Master Calendar Hearing in the Immigration Court?

The Judge will summon each immigrant by their Alien Registration Number and name. Then, the immigrant (and their lawyer if they have one) rise and go to speak with the Judge. Another lawyer representing the interests of The People of the United States will also be present.

If represented by a lawyer, the immigrant shall remain silent and will allow them to speak during the hearing. The Judge will explain the charges that have been previously stated in the Notice to Appear. The immigrant can admit to the charges or reject them and point out mistakes, if there are any. After this, they will seek to learn what proceedings there are to fight again deportation; that is, if the immigrant should apply for alyssum, exit voluntarily, apply for an adjustment of status, among others.

A date for the Individual Hearing will also be decided upon, and the Judge will likely establish deadlines for the presentation of documents and for the delivery of applications or additional information. It is also possible that they will set a date for another Master Calendar Hearing.

What do you need to bring to a Master Calendar Hearing

  • The Notice to appear, where you are summoned to that Court, on the day you appear before said court.
  • It is important to present a means of identification, which can be your passport, a driver’s license, or consular I.D. card.

What can be done if the deadlines set by the Judge are too short?  

If the immigrant were unable to prepare their defense and gather all the documents and witnesses they need, they can request an extension of deadlines. It is very important that the immigrant makes a good argument about why they need these new dates. If they do not do so, the Judge will not agree to the extensions.

What happens i fan immigrant does not show to a Master Calendar Hearing?  

  • The Judge can reject any possible defense that the immigrant may want to present against deportation.
  • A deportation order can be issued in an immediate manner and without the presence of the immigrant. This is known as deportation in absentia.

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