What is a master hearing in immigration court?

What is a master hearing in immigration court?

What is a master hearing in immigration court?



In the realm of immigration law, a master hearing holds significant importance. It serves as a crucial stage within the immigration court system, providing individuals with an opportunity to present their case and establish their eligibility for relief or protection. This article aims to delve into the concept of a master hearing in immigration court, exploring its purpose, procedures, and the rights of the individuals involved.

The Purpose of a Master Hearing

A master hearing, also known as a master calendar hearing, is an initial hearing that takes place in immigration court. Its primary purpose is to schedule and manage the proceedings of an immigration case. During this hearing, the immigration judge addresses administrative matters, such as identifying the parties involved, clarifying the issues at hand, and establishing a timeline for the case.

Additionally, the master hearing serves as an opportunity for the individual in removal proceedings, often referred to as the respondent, to state their intentions and present any preliminary applications for relief from removal. It allows the respondent to inform the court of their eligibility for relief, such as asylum, cancellation of removal, or adjustment of status.

Procedures in a Master Hearing

The procedures followed in a master hearing may vary depending on the specific circumstances of the case and the immigration court where the hearing takes place. However, certain common elements can be expected.

Identification and Preliminary Matters: At the beginning of the master hearing, the immigration judge will verify the respondent’s identity and ensure that they have received proper notice of the proceedings. The judge will also inquire about legal representation and provide an opportunity for the respondent to secure an attorney if they do not already have one.

Charges and Relief Applications: The immigration judge will review the charges of removability against the respondent, which are typically outlined in a Notice to Appear (NTA) issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The respondent may then admit or deny the charges and present any applications for relief from removal.

Scheduling and Case Management: The judge will establish a timeline for the case, including future hearing dates and deadlines for submitting evidence or legal briefs. The judge may also address any procedural issues, such as the need for interpreters or the possibility of administrative closure if the case warrants it.

Rights of the Parties Involved

During a master hearing, both the respondent and the government, represented by DHS, have certain rights that must be respected.

Right to Legal Representation: The respondent has the right to be represented by an attorney of their choice, at their own expense. If the respondent cannot afford an attorney, they may seek pro bono legal assistance or request a list of available legal service providers from the court.

Right to Present Evidence and Witnesses: The respondent has the right to present evidence and call witnesses in support of their case. This may include documents, expert testimonies, or personal testimonies from the respondent or other individuals who can provide relevant information.

Right to Due Process: Both the respondent and the government have the right to due process, which includes the right to a fair and impartial hearing. This ensures that the immigration judge considers all relevant evidence and legal arguments before making a decision.


In summary, a master hearing in immigration court plays a crucial role in managing and progressing immigration cases. It provides an opportunity for respondents to present their case, establish their eligibility for relief, and adhere to the procedural requirements of the court. Understanding the purpose, procedures, and rights associated with a master hearing is essential for individuals navigating the complex immigration court system.


– justice.gov
– uscis.gov
– americanimmigrationcouncil.org