Immigration Court Hearings

Deportation defense is the representation and protection of immigrants who are facing deportation or removal from the United States. For many immigrants facing deportation, the defense process involves appearing in immigration court. Removal proceedings are begun when the government issues a Notice to Appear (NTA). The NTA is presented to an Immigration Judge who must decide whether to order you removed from the United States or allow you to remain.

The first formal stage of removal proceedings in immigration court is known as the Master Calendar Hearing. This hearing is typically very short, lasting no longer than 15 minutes. The immigration judge will not make a decision on the substance of your case at this hearing. Instead, he will confer with you or your attorney and the government attorney to determine which types of immigration relief you will be seeking, such as cancellation of removal, voluntary departure, or asylum and withholding of removal, as well as the schedule for the case. This may include deadlines for submitting applications, petitions, and supporting evidence, as well as the date for the eventual Merits or Individual Hearing.

The Merits or Individual Hearing is your final hearing in which you present your case. It can last anything from 2 to 8 hours or longer, depending on the complexity of your case. You will be allowed to testify on your own behalf, with your attorney asking you questions to help tell your story. You will then be questioned by the government attorney. In addition, you can present witnesses, experts, and exhibits (submitted at least one month before the final hearing) to support your claim.


Many immigrants are afraid to attend their court hearings because they believe they will be detained. You do not need to be afraid. If you do not appear at any of your hearings, the judge can issue a deportation order against in your absence. You will also forfeit your bond if you paid one.
You should dress conservatively and behave respectfully at your hearings. It is critical to arrive on time because a judge can also issue deportation order in your absence if you are late. You should allow extra time to pass through the security checkpoint.

If you do not speak English well, the immigration court will provide an interpreter for you at no cost.
To discuss your immigration court case, please call our office at 313-251-8282 to schedule an appointment or request an appointment from this website.


An immigration bond is what a person pays the Department of Homeland Security to release an individual who is in immigration detention. People generally get placed in immigration detention when they are caught entering the United States illegally or have done something to violate their legal status in the United States, such as committing a crime or overstaying a non-immigrant visa.

If you are detained for violating an immigration law and are placed into immigration court proceedings, the judge will determine whether you are eligible for a bond. Some people who have committed serious crimes or those who have been apprehended at the border and have no legal basis for being here are not eligible for bond and must remain detained for the duration of their immigration case.

If you are eligible for bond, you must prove to the immigration judge that you are NOT a danger to the community and are NOT a flight risk. To make this determination, the immigration judge will look at various factors, including your family and community ties in the United States, your employment history, your criminal and immigration record, length of residence in the United States, and whether you are eligible for relief (such as asylum or cancellation of removal). The bond amount varies depending on how strong each of these factors are in your case.

An attorney can help you request a bond in immigration court. We can assist you by preparing evidence and a comprehensive bond motion to persuade the judge to grant you a reasonable bond.


  • To ask for this hearing, you must check the following in the “Notice of Custody Determination” document provided to you by an ICE officer at your jail.

[  ] I do request an immigration judge review of this custody determination

  • If the judge grants you a bond and you are released from detention, you are promising that you will go to all your court hearings and do what the judge orders you to do, including reporting to ICE (see ICE and ISAP reporting).
  • Remember, if you get out of detention on bond it is not the end of your deportation case. You will still need to go to all your court dates

If you or a family member have been detained, please call our office at 313-251-8282 to schedule an appointment or request an appointment from this website.

Cancellation of Removal

Cancellation of Removal for Non Permanent Residents under INA § 240A(b)(1) is a critical defense to deportation available to certain noncitizens with family in the United States. It is only available to those already in immigration court proceedings. A person who is granted non-LPR cancellation of removal receives a green card.

You can qualify for non-LPR cancellation of removal if you meet the following criteria:

  1. You have been physically present in the United States continuously for at least ten years;
    You have had good moral character for ten years;
  2. You have not been convicted of certain crimes under the Immigration and Nationality Act;
  3. To deport you would cause exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to your Legal Permanent Resident or U.S. citizen spouse, child, or parent.
  4. To discuss your eligibility for Cancellation of Removal, please call our office at 313-251-8282 to schedule an appointment or request an appointment from this website.

To discuss your eligibility for Cancellation of Removal, please call our office at 313-251-8282 to schedule an appointment or request an appointment from this website.


Asylum is a form of humanitarian protection available under U.S. law. You can be granted asylum if you can prove that you are unable or unwilling to return your country of nationality because of past persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of one of the following grounds:  (1) race, (2) religion, (3) nationality, (4) political opinion, or (5) membership in a particular social group.

Individuals can apply for asylum through either an “affirmative” or a “defensive” process. Individuals who are not in immigration court proceedings can petition for asylum affirmatively through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). “Defensive” asylum is the application process for individuals who are in immigration court proceedings.

You are barred from applying for asylum if you

  1. Ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the persecution of any person on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion;
  2. Were convicted of a “particularly serious crime” such that you are a danger to the United States;
  3. Committed a “serious nonpolitical crime” outside the United States;
  4. Pose a danger to the security of the United States; or
  5. Were firmly resettled in another country before arriving in the United States


  • In general, you must apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the United States.
  • With some very limited exceptions, generalized gang violence and domestic violence are no longer a strong enough basis for asylum.
  • U.S. law requires that you produce all reasonably available evidence helping to explain what happened to you or what would happen to you if you returned to your home country. Therefore, you must attach as much written evidence as possible to support your claim. This may include police reports, hospital records, photographs of your injuries, witness statements, and similar documents.
  • You may include your spouse and children who are in the United States on your application at the time you file or at any time until a final decision is made on your case. To include your child on your application, the child must be under 21 and unmarried.
  • USCIS or the Immigration Judge must find you credible. This means that your story must be believable and consistent with both (1) all your prior statements, and (2) all your supporting evidence.

If you are granted asylum, you may apply for a Green Card one year later if you have been physically present in the United States for at least one year after being granted asylum and continue to meet the definition of an asylee (or continue to be the spouse or child of such an asylee).

To discuss your eligibility for Asylum, please call our office at 313-251-8282 to schedule an appointment orequest an appointment from this website.

Voluntary Departure

If you have no way of lawfully remaining in the United States, voluntary departure is permission to leave the country in a way that generally has fewer negative consequences than being removed or deported. It permits you to depart from the country at your own expense within a designated amount of time—up to 120 days in some cases. However, voluntary departure is not available in all cases and can still result in a 3- or 10-year bar from the United States depending on your circumstances.

To discuss whether Voluntary Departure is right for you, please call our office at 313-251-8282 to schedule an appointment or request an appointment from this website.

ICE/ISAP Reporting

If you are in immigration proceedings, then you will likely be subject to some kind of reporting program, either reporting directly in person to ICE or through ISAP, a program that includes GPS monitoring (tethers), telephonic reporting, reporting by “selfie,” unannounced home visits, and regular face-to-face interviews.

If you participate in these monitoring programs, it is important that you comply with the reporting activities, including obtaining and turning in a passport, so that you may later be eligible for modification of your reporting requirements, such as the removal of the home visits, for example.

Work Permits

An Employment Authorization Document, known popularly as a work permit, is a document issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that provides temporary employment authorization to noncitizens in the United States. Work permits are usually valid for one or two years, depending on the type of application upon which they are based, and generally can be renewed as long as your application for relief is pending.

The government fee for a work permit application is currently $410.00 (except for an initial application based on a pending asylum application, which is free).


  • You do not have legal immigration status just because you have been granted a work permit! In general, employment authorization is just a benefit provided to you while your specific application is pending with USCIS or with the immigration court.
  • Not all individuals with pending asylum applications are eligible for a work permit—you may be barred from eligibility if you do not request an expedited immigration court hearing, for example.

To discuss your eligibility for a Work Permit, please call our office at 313-251-8282 to schedule an appointment or request an appointment from this website.


If the Immigration Judge denies your case, you can appeal that decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals. This appeal must be filed within 30 days of the judge’s decision. You cannot be removed from the United States during this appeal period, which can take up to a year, sometimes longer.

To appeal, you must bring the following to your appointment with your lawyer:

  1. A copy of the Immigration Judge’s order denying your case
  2. A check or money order in the amount of $110 for the government fee (although on February 27, 2020, the Board of Immigration Appeals announced a possible fee increase to $975, but this proposal has not been implemented yet)

If you lose your appeal before the Board of Immigration Appeals, for some matters, you may file a petition for review in the federal Court of Appeals in the respective circuit where the original case was filed. For decisions issued out of Detroit Immigration Court, this court is the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit Court.  These petitions must be filed within 30 days of the Board’s decision, but unlike the Board appeals, there is no automatic stay for federal appeals – you are at risk of deportation and your attorney must seek a stay of removal for the duration of the appeal process.

To discuss the possibility of appealing your case, please call our office at 313-251-8282 to schedule an appointment or request an appointment from this website.