OVERVIEW OF THE REMOVAL PROCESS
Removal proceedings are the process by which the United States government seeks to determine whether noncitizen persons in the United States shall be ordered removed from the country. A person can be placed in removal proceedings in several different ways. Such as after filing an application in the affirmative process and being denied and not otherwise have immigration status, or after being arrested or convicted for a criminal or traffic offense and being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
THE NOTICE TO APPEAR
Removal proceedings are started when the Notice to Appear (NTA) is filed with the Immigration Court. The person the government is trying to remove from the country is called the Respondent. The NTA has two basic parts. The first is made up of the factual allegations about the person including facts which would show a person is removable from the US. The second part is the section of the law which says that person is removable if the alleged facts are true. The respondent is entitled to receive a copy of the NTA.
There are two main types of hearings in immigration court. The first type are called Master Calender hearings. These hearings are usually scheduled with other master calendar hearings and done one after the other. They are usually short and where several very important aspects of a case are discussed. Pleadings or the formal response by a respondent, through his or her attorney if they have one, to the allegations listed in the NTA and charge of removability. The respondent also tells the court what defense or defenses they would like to assert, if any. The second type of hearing is an Individual or Merits Hearing. This is where a respondent would present their case for their defense from being removed from the US. It is also where the government attorney would seek to show that a person is removable from the US.
Cases may end in several different ways. Sometimes cases end early because an agreement is made with the government to close the case. Or the respondent has some other way to get an immigration benefit and is no longer removable. If there is a hearing in front of the immigration judge then they may make a decision to either grant the relief and cancel the removal or order a person removed from the US. In the event that a person is ordered to be removed they may appeal or challenge this decision and ask the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to review the case.