How do removal proceedings begin?

by Blake P. Somers, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

Generally, these proceedings are begun when the non-citizen is served with a document called a Notice to Appear (formerly “Order to Show Cause”). A Notice to Appear, or NTA, generally contains several factual allegations regarding the individual such as their country of birth and their place and manner of entry into the United States, and also usually contains a charge of removability or admissibility.  The “charge” is, basically, the reason why the government is alleging the person is not entitled to remain in the United States.

Once the person is served with a document and the court proceedings actually begin, there will likely be one if not several “Master Calendar Hearings”. A Master Calendar Hearing is a fairly brief proceeding where the judge is informed of events, sometimes pre-trial issues may be addressed, and a date for trial may be picked. Ultimately, the case will be scheduled for an Individual Hearing, which can generally be thought of as the trial in the case.

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