What Should You Expect When In A Deportation Hearing?

If you are presented with a Notice To Appear (NTA), you’ll be expected to be at an immigration hearing before a judge, ultimately deciding whether you will be deported from the United States. Find out in this article what exactly happens during a deportation trial. You’d like to ensure that you have all the information you’ll need to increase your chances of being allowed to remain in the US.

Find Personalized Legal Advice If You Are Facing A Deportation Hearing Within The U.S.

What Happens During A Deportation Hearing

They say that “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” In this case, you must carefully prepare before facing a deportation hearing. What are the steps you’ll go through when you attend one?

During The First Hearing

At the first hearing, also called the master calendar hearing, the judge will explain the charge against you in basic, easy-to-understand terms. You won’t have to worry about deciphering complex legal jargon. Once the judge has clarified the order against you, you’ll have an opportunity to defend yourself.

At this point, you’ll be able to provide documents or call witnesses to the stand that can provide sufficient evidence that the charge against you is false. You must prove to the court that you have a legal right to remain in the United States. If you don’t have the required evidence, you can describe it to the judge if you can procure it for the immigration court after your first hearing. In some cases, you should bring this additional evidence to your upcoming merits hearing. 

After you have had a chance to defend yourself, the presiding judge will work their way through a series of questions, which will give them an overall context of your immigration case. For example, expect to be asked if you have any prior convictions, what year you entered the country, and whether you have a spouse or a parent who is a US citizen.

During your first hearing, you can apply for voluntary removal if you don’t think you can provide sufficient evidence to avoid deportation. If you accept voluntary leaving, your record won’t feature a deportation order. You’ll also find it much easier to reenter the United States in the future. 

However, if your request for voluntary removal is accepted, you’ll be expected to pay for your tickets back to your country of origin. The main benefit of applying for voluntary leave is that the court may only bar you from reentering the United States for only five years. If you wait to be deported, you may have to wait 10 or 20 years before you can return to the US.

During The Merits Hearing

If you choose to hire an experienced immigration attorney, they will be able to present your defense during your merits hearing. Depending on your attorney’s strategy for your protection, they may ask you to testify in court and will ask you a series of questions designed to prove your evidence. However, just as your attorney can ask you a series of questions, you’ll also have to answer a series of questions from the prosecution. 

To strengthen your defense, you’ll also be able to provide further evidence which can prove your right to remain in the US. Examples may include testimonies from trustworthy witnesses and sworn statements from individuals who can attest to the legitimacy of your right to stay in the United States. 

When Given A Bag & A Baggage Notice

If, after at least two immigration hearings, the judge assigned to deliberate over your immigration case gives you a bag and baggage notice, they have decided to process your deportation. On your bag and baggage notice, they will provide details of the venue at which you’ll need to turn up on the scheduled day of your deportation. 

Failure to turn up at this venue on the scheduled date and time will result in members of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) being assigned to track you down and forcibly remove you. ICE takes deportation seriously. Its agents can and will check your home, workplace, and associates’ homes to try and track you down.

Filing An Appeal

You may fill out a form to reopen your case if you feel that the judge made a decision that did not consider the evidence you provided. If you think they came to an incorrect conclusion, you can make an appeal featuring groundbreaking evidence.


It is important to turn up at each scheduled hearing with an immigration attorney and a defense strategy. This can increase your chances of being allowed to stay in the US.

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