What is a Master Calendar Hearing?
A Master Calendar Hearing (MCH) is a preliminary hearing. It is associated with efforts to remove an immigrant from the United States. You, the judge, and the government’s attorney will meet to determine how your case should proceed. This short hearing is just the starting point for your case.
What Will Happen at my MCH?
The MCH, as the name implies, is essentially a scheduling conference for the most important aspects of your case. For example, the judge will set out when specific documents should be submitted to the court and when you will have your individual merits hearing.
Assuming you have an attorney, he or she will answer most of the judge’s questions. However, you should also attend the hearing, even if you have a lawyer.
The MCH will not touch on any substantive issues of your case. You are not questioned, and you do not present any witnesses. Other than addressing scheduling matters, the judge will not decide any significant issues regarding your claim.
What to Expect at Your MCH
Most MCHs are set in blocks of time. That means that your case will likely be heard in conjunction with several other cases. When the judge is ready to address your case, he or she will call your name and your Alien Registration Number, and you will come forward to talk with the Judge.
The Judge will ask you basic identification information, such as your name and native language. If you do not understand English well, it is a good idea to ask for an interpreter. Your attorney can help you arrange for these services if necessary.
Pleading to Your Notice to Appear
The Judge will also set out the charges against you, and you will reply to each one with either an admit or deny response. Your lawyer will be able to help you decide how you should plead to each count. Be sure to have your responses planned out well in advance of the hearing. If, for some reason, the information contained in your Notice to Appear is not correct, explain those discrepancies to the Judge or ask your attorney to do that for you.
You will also let the Judge know what type of relief you are seeking as well. The kind of relief you should request will vary significantly depending on your unique situation. Your lawyer can help you craft an appropriate response to this question. For example, you may want to indicate that you are claiming asylum, withdraw of removal, cancellation of removal, or adjustment of status.
Preparing for your MCH
You should receive a Notice to Appear that provides the time and location of your MCH. You can bring family members to court, but you should be sure that these individuals have legal immigration status; otherwise, they can be arrested. You should avoid bringing children, however.
Dress in conservative, neat clothes, and avoid being late. The court can simply order that you get deported if you do not attend your MCH or if you are late. Arriving early to get through security and get situated is a good idea.
You should bring relevant documents with you, including a driver’s license or passport. Be sure to also bring a copy of your Notice to Appear as well. Your attorney may also suggest additional documents or information, too.
Although the MCH is short, it can be intimating and confusing. It is a good idea to have an immigration attorney to help you through this process. Contact our team to determine how we can assist you during your MCH.
Posted in: Deportation Defense