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8 Important Tips About Your Master Calendar

  1. Appropriate Clothing. You are going into a court of law. You do not need fancy or formal clothing, but it should be neat and appropriate.
  2. Be On Time. Many people come into my office who already have a removal order in abstentia (the legal term for an order of removal entered in your absence). This happens because they did not appear in court on time. The judges will not generally accept an excuse such as "I got caught in traffic" or "my car wouldn't start". Usually, the Judge will think “ I managed to get here on time and the attorney for Homeland Security managed to get here on time so you should be on time.” Leave plenty of time for your trip to court to allow for traffic, mechanical failures, flat tires, etc. 
  3. Allow For a Long Wait in Front of the Courthouse There is usually a line waiting to get through security. It's important that you leave well before you're hearing time. Example: I've seen dozens of people waiting to get into the Immigration Court in Miami. Some of these individuals miss their hearings because they are still in line.
  4. Prepare for a Long Wait Inside the Courtroom If You Don't Have a Lawyer. While you must be in court on time you will be waiting a long time once you get there. This is particularly true if you do not have an attorney. Many cases are scheduled for the same time so there will be a lot of people waiting. The immigration judges generally call the lawyer's cases first. This way the judge knows that the proceedings can move along since the attorney won't need an explanation about what is going on. If you come to court without a lawyer, the law requires the judge to give warnings that an experienced lawyer will have already explained to you Once all the cases with lawyers finish, the judge will then begin calling the cases for those that have no lawyer.
  5. Bring Your Picture ID, Your Notice to Appear, Your Notice of Hearing, and Anything Else You May Have Received From The Court. Before going to court you should have received a notice to appear. This is very different from the notice of hearing. Your notice of hearing will state the date time and place where you have to show up in court. The notice to appear may also contain that information. Yet, it also contains the charges against you saying why Homeland Security is seeking to remove and deport you.
  6. You Don't Need To Bring Your Own Interpreter to Speak to the Judge. The court will have its own interpreter there or the judge will arrange for an interpreter over the phone. Example: In the Miami Immigration Court, Spanish and Creole interpreters are usually in the courtroom. For other languages, the Judge often has an interpreter appear by phone.
  7. What The Judge Is Likely to Ask You. The judge will usually ask you your name, address, and language that you speak and understand the best. The judge might also ask if you would acknowledge the proper service of your notice to appear. Even if you have the notice to appear with you, you should not acknowledge proper service without having a lawyer first analyze your case to determine service. The mere fact that you have the document does not mean that it was properly served.
  8. The Judge Will Give You Time To Get a Lawyer... Do It! The judge will ask you if you have an attorney. The judges are quite insistent about individuals not attempting to represent themselves in Immigration Court. They understand how complex immigration laws are, and how difficult it is for a non-attorney to win in front of the Immigration Court. The judges tend to be very liberal in giving you time to find a lawyer and they will encourage you to do so. Accept that offer of time to consult with an attorney. The judge will have you return in a few months with your attorney to enter a plea and request relief.

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