What are Master Calendar Hearings?

A master calendar hearing (MCH) is a brief, initial meeting regarding your immigration matter. It is generally the preliminary meeting between you, an immigration judge, and a government attorney to assess how your immigration case will proceed. It can be the first step in the process to remove an individual from the United States. In a MCH, you will not discuss your situation in any depth, nor will the judge make any ruling. It is simply a time to schedule future events related to your case.

How to Prepare for Your Master Calendar Hearing

The process begins with the receipt of a Notice to Appear (NTA) letter. This letter indicates the date, time, and location of your MCH. You must attend this hearing in person. While not mandatory, it is advisable to have an immigration lawyer attend as well. While family members are permitted to attend, it is imperative they have lawful immigration status or risk possible arrest.

If you fail to appear or are late, you risk deportation “in absentia” or have your defenses denied. Come dressed neatly, on time, with all important documents including your original NTA, driver’s license, and passport. A calendar is also handy to record important dates as the judge schedules them.

What to Expect During your Master Calendar Hearing

While your MCH with the judge may only last a few minutes, between check in, security screening, and wait time, your overall visit can last a few hours. When it is your time, the judge will call you up by name and Alien Registration Number. You and your immigration attorney can now approach the Judge.

If you are not fluent in English, you have the right to request a free interpreter. If an interpreter is not available or the one provided by the court is not translating accurately, you can request another, or your MCH may be rescheduled altogether.

When it is your time to speak, you will say your name, address, and native language. If your lawyer is present, you can introduce him or her at this time. As the judge begins reading off the charges against you listed in your MCH, you will address anything that is incorrect and accept or deny each charge. Common charges include overstaying your visa and falsifying travel documents.

Next, you will tell the judge what type of relief you are seeking: asylum, adjustment of status, cancellation of removal, voluntary departure, or withdraw of removal. After hearing this information, the judge schedules the next important events in your case:

  • Date for submitting relevant applications, amendments, or information
  • Date for a follow-up MCH (if needed)
  • Date for individual merits hearing

If you feel that you cannot meet these deadlines for any reason, your immigration lawyer can request to extend deadlines or reschedule your hearing (a continuance.) Your MCH concludes with a new Notice to Appear for your next MCH or individual merits hearing.

Your master calendar hearing is the important first step to fighting removal. Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. advocate for you at your MCH and throughout the immigration process, guiding you to make smart decisions for you and your family.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Represent Clients at Master Calendar Hearings

If you have received a Notice to Appear, it is time to schedule a consultation with the compassionate, multilingual Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Located in Philadelphia, we work with clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania and the nation. Call 215-925-4435 or contact us online to get started today.