When can an immigration judge close the case? (2023)


An immigration removal proceeding is a legal action that decides whether someone should be removed or deported from the United States. This process usually begins when someone receives a Notice to Appear. A master schedule hearing is then held, followed by an individual hearing. This article explains each step of the procedure in detail, including when, how, and why a judge can end removal proceedings.

When can an immigration judge close the case? (1)When can an immigration judge close the case? (2)

Written byAmelia Naimi.
Updated July 26, 2022

What is an immigration deportation process?

In an immigration removal proceeding, an immigration judge decides if someone can stay in the United States. In the US, the government can start removal proceedings, also known as deportation, if someone does not have valid immigration status or has done something to change their valid immigration status. For example, you could be at risk of deportation if you are convicted of a crime.

Deportation is not an automatic process. The government must prove its case. People facing deportation can make arguments about why the government is wrong. They can also make affirmative defenses as to why they should be allowed to stay in the country.

Immigration hearings are held in front of a judge at theExecutive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). This is part of the Department of Justice. During these hearings, the judge will hear evidence from both sides and decide if someone can stay in the country. There are three main parts to an immigration removal hearing:

  • A prompt to appear

  • An initial hearing, which is sometimes called a Master Calendar Hearing (MCH)

  • a one-on-one audience

What is a notice to attend?

A Notice to Appear (NTA) is the document the government sends when it tries to deport someone.Do not ignore this document. The government can personally mail this document to you by having someone deliver the paperwork to you. They can also mail it to your lawyer or to your last known address.

There are some parts to an NTA. First, it will include your name, date of birth,A numberand contact information. Second, it will list the facts that explain why the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to deport you. For example, you may receive an NTA if you are a permanent resident who has been charged with a felony. Third, the NTA will list the charges against him and explain which laws they believe he has violated.

If DHS can prove the facts are true, they will argue that these laws mean that the immigration judge must remove you.

Fourth, this document may include a date and time for your first hearing. If you do not have this information, you will receive a separate Notice of Hearing document with it. The first hearing must take place at least 10 days after the NTA. Finally, the NTA will inform you of your hearing rights. During the hearing, the immigration court will provide you with an interpreter so that you can understand what is happening. Unlike criminal court, however, the government does not give people facing immigration removal proceedings a free lawyer. you can hire oneprivate attorneyto represent you at this hearing.

What should I do if I receive an NTA?

Please read the NTA carefully. Keep track of any errors it contains, especially if it was cited in someone else's case. There may be incorrect facts or dates listed. If you can, look for documents that show the DHS data was wrong. You can present this information to the immigration judge during your individual hearing.

Put the hearing date on your calendar and be sure to show up. If you do not attend the hearing, the judge may grant DHS's request to deport you without hearing your side of the case.

How do initial hearings work?

An initial hearing is sometimes called a Master Calendar Hearing (MCH).Don't skip this hearing.If you do not attend the initial hearing, the judge may grant the government's request to remove you. This is called granting your default motion. When you go to the initial hearing, there may be many people in court for the same reason. Hear your name and go to the front of the court.

At the initial hearing, you will spend a few minutes in front of the immigration judge. The judge will read the DHS charges against you that were on the NTA. You will say that you agree with these accusations or that you deny them. Tell the judge if any of the information in the NTA is incorrect.

You can also tell the judge if you have any defenses against removal or if you want to apply for a waiver of removal. For example, you can tell the judge that you meet the eligibility requirements for agreen card, and you want to order one. It's okay to be nervous in front of the judge, but don't leave out important information. Some people choose to make a list of defenses in advance and then read it to the judge at the hearing so they don't forget anything.

What can the judge decide about My MCH?

During the initial hearing, the judge will also decide if there is a realistic way for you to win your case. If the judge decides that there is no way for you to win your case, he or she can issue a removal order at this hearing. The judge may also decide to keep your case pending. If that happens, the judge will schedule another hearing that will focus on the merits of your case. Write down the dates the judge gives you. These dates may include:

  • The deadline for filing any application, petition, or amendment

  • The date of your next hearing

Again, be sure to attend all hearings. If you don't, the judge can issue an order for you to be deported.

having aimmigration lawyerRepresenting you at an initial hearing and in your removal proceedings in general is a good idea. They will look for loopholes in the DHS case and explain to the judge any defenses you have.

What are individual hearings?

An individual hearing, also known as a merits hearing, is when the judge hears everyone's arguments and evidence. An individual hearing can last up to four hours. At this hearing, the judge will review all the paperwork that you and DHS have submitted. This includes petitions, applications, and supporting documents from both sides. You will have the opportunity to make corrections and additions to this paperwork.

You will then be asked to position yourself. He must take an oath that he will tell the truth. Even if you are the defendant in the government case, you can make your case first when your lawyer questions you. Then the DHS attorney will ask you questions. The immigration judge may also have some questions for you.

Once you have finished testifying, you can present your witnesses in court. His witnesses can speak of his good moral character as a way to support his stay in the country. They can also talk about the persecution in his home country as a way to support arguments that he should not be deported.

What can the judge decide at my individual hearing?

After everyone has finished testifying, the DHS lawyer and your lawyer will make legal statements about why you should or should not be removed from the US Most of the time, the judge will make his or her decision while you are in the court for your individual hearing. You will likely walk out of the courtroom with a final order in hand.

Usually, the judge will grant you a waiver of removal, which means you can stay in the country, or will issue a removal/deportation order. The judge will explain his reasons for issuing this order.

If you are not satisfied with the results of your individual hearing, you may file an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) within 30 days of receiving your application. DHS may also appeal the judge's order within 30 days of its issuance. While you are waiting for this appeals court's decision, DHS cannot deport you.

What does it mean when an immigration case is closed?

The termination of removal proceedings is a form of relief in an immigration case. When a case is closed, it is removed from the immigration court. When an immigration judge closes a case, you are removed from the process entirely. If the judge dismisses his deportation case, he does not have to worry about going to immigration court or being deported. DHS cannot pursue this case, although it may file different deportation charges against you in the future.

Procedural termination is different from administrative termination. With administrative closure, a case is removed from a court's calendar but remains open indefinitely. DHS attorneys have the option to reopen closed cases in the future. Termination may be a better option for people because the case is truly over. It won't hang over your head indefinitely.

Filing a Motion to End Removal Proceedings

Immigration attorneys typically file a motion to end removal proceedings in deportation cases. You can file this motion as soon as you receive an NTA or later in your case. A motion to terminate proceedings will state all the reasons why the government's case is wrong. This includes anything that DHS got it wrong, whether it misinterpreted immigration law or the DHS legal charges are not serious enough to get someone removed from the country.

Motions to Rescind may also include reasons why someone qualifies for a specific immigration benefit, adjustment of status, or if they areeligible for naturalization. For example, this motion could explain why a non-citizen isDACA-eligibleor a U visa or who will apply for your green card.

new bassBiden Administration Guidelines, DHS attorneys are encouraged to exercise prosecutorial discretion by focusing on high-priority cases and eliminating the backlog of immigration cases. This could lead to the closure or closure of more non-priority cases. DHS attorneys and private attorneys can even file joint motions to end removal proceedings if an immigrant applies for an immigration benefit.

What happens if my removal process ends?

If your removal process is finished, you can breathe a sigh of relief. You no longer have to worry about legal action to get you deported. You can stay in the country legally, at least for now. However, depending on your immigration status and your immigration goals, you may still have to complete a fair amount of additional paperwork or applications.

This is especially true if your case was dismissed because you applied for an immigration benefit from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Even if he cannot be deported at this time, he still must complete the steps to officially receive his benefit and remain in the country legally.

What happens if I have a pending petition with USCIS?

If you have a pending petition with USCIS, you may need to file an update showing that your removal proceedings are closed in order for the agency to proceed and process your petition.

Alternatively, if you are applying for adjustment of status by applying for afamily sponsored green card, you will need to continue with this process. You will need to complete Form I-130, which includes proof of a relationship to yourbrotheror other eligible family member. Your sponsoring family member will also need to submit information to USCIS that shows they have enough income to support you so that you don't have to rely on public benefits for at least five years after you get your green card. Is calledsupporting statement.

You may also needapply for a work permitif you don't already have one. This process can take a while, but it is necessary to make sure you can stay in the country legally. While this paperwork may seem daunting, it is important that you complete your application or petition. This will allow you to stay in the country legally and possibly become a lawful permanent resident so you don't have to worry about immigration removal hearings or removal proceedings again in the future.


Immigration removal procedures can be complicated, but help is available. If you are eligible,our free web appguide you through the immigration process and help you prepare and submit your application to the US government. If our application is not a good fit, or you simply have immigration questions that need answers, speak to an independent attorney for just $24/month through ourAsk a Lawyer Program.

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