Refugee & Immigrant Program
The immigration court docket is divided between the Master calendar and the Individual calendar. All preliminary matters, including the initial appearance for pleadings, are scheduled on the Master calendar. Your clients final asylum hearing will be scheduled on the Individual calendar.
The purpose of the initial Master calendar hearing is to respond to the charges against your client, ask for relief from removal, and schedule an Individual calendar hearing date. Master calendar hearings are similar to arraignments. Approximately 20 individuals typically are scheduled for the same hearing time; be sure to sign up when you arrive, as cases are heard in the order of arrival at court.
Your client MUST appear at the Master Calendar Hearing and any other scheduled hearings. If the client fails to appear, they may be ordered removed from the U.S. in absentia. Any change of address must be reported to the Court on Form EOIR-33.
Location of 7850 Metro Parkway, Suite 320
Immigration Court: Bloomington, MN 55425
(Near the Mall of America, off 80th Street, between 24th and 34th Avenues)
Note: The Court is not in the same building as the Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS).
Go to www.usdoj.gov/eoir for directions and Local Operating Procedures for immigration courts nation-wide.
Local Immigration Court Phone: 61 2-725-3765
General Information Phone Number: 800- 898-7180
Preparing Your Client for the Master Calendar Hearing:
Remember that your client may not be familiar with the U.S. legal system. Discuss the need for proper courtroom attire and punctuality. Talk with your client about what to expect at the initial appearance -- many clients fear that their entire case will be decided that day. Make sure your client knows how to get to the Immigration Court and what day and time they need to be there. All immigration court hearings are tape-recorded; remind your client to speak loudly and clearly into the microphone so that their answers are recorded.
Procedure at Master Calendar Hearing:
1. Notice to Appear (NTA): The NTA is the charging document against your client. The filing of the NTA initiates removal proceedings. The NTA lists the charges against your client (for example: overstay of visa, entry without inspection).
The judge will ask for your pleadings to the allegations in the NTA. The general practice in the Bloomington Immigration Court is to admit any factual allegations which are not in dispute. The INS bears the initial burden of establishing that your client is removable from the U.S. If there appears to be an error in the allegations as charged or if it appears that the INS cannot support the allegation, it should be denied.
If all allegations charged are true and correct, and if the allegations support a charge of removability enumerated on the NTA, concede removability. If the charge cannot be supported by the allegations, the charge may be denied.
2. Designating Country of Removal: The judge will ask to what country your client wishes to be deported. You should Decline to designate a country. It does not make sense to ask to be returned to the same country where you fear persecution.
3. Relief from Removal: The judge will ask what relief from removal your client is seeking. Generally, your client will be seeking Asylum, Withholding of Removal, Relief under the Convention Against Torture, and possibly Voluntary Departure.
Your client may be eligible for other relief as well, depending on whether they have close family members in the US who have petitioned for them, how long they have lived in the US, and other factors. You should discuss these possibilities with your client prior to the initial Master calendar hearing and seek the help of your consulting attorney or Minnesota Advocates staff if appropriate.
4. Voluntary Departure: Asking for Voluntary Departure does not mean that your client wants to leave the US. It is an alternative form of relief that permits the client to depart at their own expense, with no official order of removal on their record, if they otherwise are not granted the right to remain in the US. Avoiding an order of removal by taking Voluntary Departure allows them to remain eligible for a visa to return to the US later. Your client must have a valid passport in order to be granted voluntary departure and a bond of at least $500 will be required within 5 days of the judges order of voluntary departure. You must be ready to present the passport to the Judge at some later date.
4. Interpreters: Your client has the right to an interpreter at all removal hearings. If your client speaks limited English, they may choose to speak in English at the Master calendar hearing but require an interpreter for the Individual hearing. Tell the Judge what language and dialect your client and all expected witnesses speak.
5. At the end of the Master Calendar you will receive a Hearing Notice for your next scheduled hearing. Your client MUST appear as scheduled. The Judge will also indicate a call-up date telling you when all documents are due to the Court. You must submit any documents to the Court by the date ordered or they may not be considered.
The Individual Calendar Hearing: The hearing designated as your Individual calendar hearing will be the actual asylum hearing where testimony is taken and arguments raised. Individual hearings last three or four hours.
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