Practice Areas

Immigration Court

“The Right Immigration Attorney Makes All The Difference”

Immigration cases are decided by two federal bodies that are part of the United States Department of Justice: the Immigration Court and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Immigration cases typically involve an individual alien or citizen vs. the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the division of DHS that decides upon immigrant visa petitions, naturalization petitions, asylum and refugee applications, and all other matters concerning the immigrant service and benefit functions of the United States government. The USCIS is also responsible for defining and implementing the country’s immigration services and policies. The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) administers the Immigration Courts nationwide. The EOIR and the USCIS are separate organizations.

Immigration Judges conduct Immigration Court proceedings, acting independently in deciding matters before them. Immigration Judges generally have the authority to make determinations of removability, deportability, and excludability; adjudicate applications for relief from removal or deportation; review credible fear and reasonable fear determinations made by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); conduct claimed status review proceedings; conduct custody hearings and bond determination proceedings, make determinations in rescission of adjustment of status and departure control cases; and take any other action consistent with applicable law and regulation as may be appropriate, including such actions as ruling on motions, issuing subpoenas, and ordering pre-hearing conferences and statements.

There are more than 200 Immigration Judges in more than 50 Immigration Courts nationwide. These judges sometimes hold hearings in alternate locations, such as designated detail cities with significant case loads. Immigration Judges also conduct hearings in Department of Homeland Security detention centers, as well as many federal, state, and local correctional facilities. Additionally, hearings before Immigration Judges are sometimes conducted by video or telephone conference. Hearings held in this matter are conducted under the same rules as hearings held in person. The hearing location is identified on the Notice to Appear (Form I-862) or hearing notice. Immigration Court hearings proceed promptly on the date and time scheduled.

Unrepresented aliens, attorneys, accredited representatives, and certain categories of persons who are expressively recognized by the Immigration Court may present cases. Non-lawyer immigration specialists, visa consultants, and “notarios” are not authorized to represent parties in Immigration Court. Due to the complexity of the immigration and nationality laws, the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge recommends that those who can obtain qualified professional representation (such as an attorney or accredited representative) do so. Unlike in criminal proceedings, the government is not obligated to provide legal counsel. Interpreters are provided at government expense to individuals whose command of the English language is inadequate for full understanding of, and participation in, removal proceedings.

With certain exceptions, hearings before an Immigration Judges are open to the public. Cases which include applications of asylum, applications for withholding of removal, claims brought under the Convention Against Torture, claims involving battered spouses or children, and information subject to a protective order, are closed to the public and special precautions are taken to ensure confidentiality. The Immigration Judge may also limit attendance or close a hearing to protect parties, witnesses, or the public interest, even if the hearing would normally be open to the public. Additionally, parties may file a written motion asking the Judge to close a hearing.

Parties appearing at Immigration Court will first be scheduled for a Master Calendar Hearing. At this hearing, respondents/applicants who are not represented by counsel will have their rights explained by the judge, who will provide them with an opportunity to seek counsel at their own expense. For those who are represented, the judge establishes representation and ensures that the respondent/applicant has been fully advised by counsel of his/her rights. Immigration Judges sometimes complete simple issue cases at the Master Calendar Hearing. For more complex cases, this hearing establishes whether or not deportability or admissibility of the respondent/applicant is a contested issue. Where contested, the party having the burden of proof must prove deportability or admissibility.

United States immigration laws provide a variety of forms of potential relief from removal: voluntary departure, asylum, suspension of deportation/cancellation of removal, and adjustment of status. After determining the type of relief a respondent/applicant is seeking, the judge sets a date for the respondent/applicant to file the appropriate application for relief. The judge then schedules the case for an Individual Calendar Hearing on the merits of the application.

At the Individual Calendar Hearing, the judge hears testimony from the respondent/applicant and witnesses for either party. The Immigration Judge usually renders an oral decision at the conclusion of testimony and cross-examination. The decision includes a finding of facts, the establishment of deportability, excludability, or removability, a statement addressing the relief sought, the application of existing case law, and the judge’s conclusion about the case. After announcing the decision, the judge gives each party an opportunity to waive or reserve appeal. The decisions of Immigration Judges are final unless timely appealed or certified to the Board of Immigration Appeals. A form order summarizing the judge’s decision is given to the parties before they leave the court.

May Law Group, LLC, represents aliens in immigration court throughout the United States. Our immigration attorneys represent clients in complex and difficult immigration court proceedings. Our immigration lawyers are committed to through preparation and research of our clients’ cases and we want to help our clients achieve their immigration goals. May Law Group cares about our clients and their families and we promise we will work tirelessly on your case and do our best to attain your immigration goals.

Contact an Immigration Attorney at May Law Group, LLC

For a free consultation to discuss your immigration needs with a dedicated immigration law firm, please contact us online or call 412-291-4400 | 215-880-4977 | 347-839-1700 . We are here to serve you and clients throughout the United States, including Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Ohio, Allegheny County, and worldwide in Korea, Japan, Asia, Europe, India, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, South America, Central America, Africa, the Middle East, and Australia.

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One PPG Place
Suite 1600
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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Philadelphia, PA 19102

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745 Fifth Avenue
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New York, NY 10151

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