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Master or Individual Hearing?

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What is the difference between a master calendar hearing and an individual hearing?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. Hopefully, you’ll never receive a notice to appear. A notice to appear is a document that’s issued either by USCIS or Immigration Customs Enforcement, directing you to your local immigration court.

It’s a notice to appear. It’s going to have a list of allegations against you as to why you are deportable from the United States.

When you receive that notice to appear, it’s going to have a court date and a location, and a time, hopefully. Sometimes it says TBD, but you’ll receive at some point a notice of an actual master calendar hearing.


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What is a master calendar hearing?

Some people were wondering what is a master calendar hearing? Well, a master calendar hearing is like a call docket. It’s like pretrial, where the lawyers or the immigrant and the government go in front of the immigration judge and talk through what the game plan is on this case.

The immigration courts, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, have tons and tons of cases, and they can’t try all of them at the same time.

We have these big, long backlogs, where you can’t get a court date for an individual hearing.

A master calendar is like a pretrial hearing, and an individual hearing is where you’ll have your trial as to whether or not you get deported. That’s the main distinction.

With master calendar hearings, you’ll do things like they’ll take pleading. In the notice to appear, it’ll list a bunch of allegations.

“Your name is Jim Hacking, you’re from Ireland, you entered the United States on February 4th, 2004. Since then you’ve had no legal status, and you are removable under this provision of the INA.”

At some point at a master calendar, you’re going to have to admit or deny those allegations. You might not have to do it at your first immigration court hearing, but eventually, you’re going to have to admit or deny each allegation, and that’s what happens with the master.

Then the judge is going to see if there are any kinds of relief like, “Hey, Mr. or Mrs. immigrant, why do you think you should get to stay?” “I think I should get to stay because I need to file for asylum, or I need to file for cancellation of removal proceedings.” Then the judge will set it for another master to allow you to file the application.

They’ll keep setting masters up until the case is ready for a trial date, and then at that point, you’ll get a trial date probably a year or two later based on the current backlog.

The master is just all the things that happened before the trial and then the trial is called the individual hearing. When you call the 1-800 number 1-800-798-8190.

When you call that 1-800 number, you will hear, they'll say whether it's a master or an individual. It'll also say on the pleadings every time you get a new court date from the court, it'll say whether it's a master or an individual hearing.


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Individual Hearing

The individual immigration court hearing is the real deal. That’s the trial. That’s where the judge is going to take evidence and decide whether or not you should be deported. I hope that sorts things out for you.

Hopefully, you’re not going through deportation, but if you are and you need the help of an immigration attorney, give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can email us at [email protected]. Be sure to join us on our Facebook group which is called The Immigrant Home. If you liked this video, we ask that you please share it on social media and subscribe to our YouTube channel. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.


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