If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may be ordered to appear in Immigration Court for deportation proceedings (also known as removal proceedings) if you have:
- overstayed your visa
- been deemed “inadmissible” by the USCIS
- been convicted of a crime
- entered the U.S. illegally
If you are placed in deportation proceedings (removal proceedings) the U.S. government (specifically the Department of Homeland Security) will serve you with a Notice to Appear or “NTA”. If you are issued a Notice to Appear, even if you believe it to be a mistake, you can not ignore it. Only an experienced immigration attorney will know what relief you have available to you.
Immigration Court trials are different than criminal trials in the United States. In Immigration Court you have the right to be represented by an attorney. However, the government is not obligated to provide you one, and in most cases will not. So you must hire your own attorney if you are placed in deportation proceedings.
In your deportation proceedings, the government’s attorney (known as the “Trial Attorney”) will present a case against you seeking to have you deported. In that case, the government’s attorney must identify the legal grounds for your deportation and then prove all the facts that they allege in the NTA in order to have you deported.
An Immigration Judge will preside over your case and has the authority to act not only as Judge but as prosecutor in your case (although this rarely happens these days). Once you are placed in deportation proceedings, only the Immigration Judge can decide whether or not you will be deported.