Immigration Court and Bond Hearings

Immigration Attorneys for Deportation Defense

If you have been placed in removal proceedings, your immigration case becomes procedurally more formal and the stakes become much higher. You can apply for several different forms of relief if you have been placed in removal proceedings for some reason, such as an ICE work raid, or a criminal arrest, or even a random stop.

You may learn more about Immigration Court and hearings below. If you are facing removal proceedings we strongly recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney for deportation / removal cases. Ahmad & Associates has considerable experience in these cases, and we welcome you to contact us.

Our Northern Virginia immigration attorneys work with clients in Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., nationwide, as well as internationally. We commonly work in the U.S. Immigration Courts located in: Arlington, Virginia; Baltimore, Maryland; York, Pennsylvania; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Types of Hearings in U.S. Immigration Court

There are three types of court dates in Immigration Court, one is called Master Calendar, another is a bond hearing, and the third type is the Individual Hearing.

Master Calendar Hearing

The first court date in Immigration Court is normally for a Master Calendar date. On Master Calendar dates, the Immigration Judge (IJ) deals with administrative issues, including scheduling, receiving applications, pleadings to the immigration charges, and other issues that may arise. There are generally 20-30 cases scheduled during a two hour period for Master Calendar. Most Judges take cases where the respondents are represented by counsel first, and then individuals that are representing themselves (“pro se”).

Bond Hearing

Another type of Immigration hearing, the bond hearing, normally takes place immediately after the Master Hearing, however it can be requested by the detainee and his or her attorney at any time. This is a custody determination hearing, where the judge must decide whether a detainee can be released by paying a bond. The Immigration Judge normally focuses on two aspects: the person’s danger to the community, and whether the person is or is not a significant flight risk (he may not appear at future court hearings). The immigration attorney files a “bond packet” in preparation for this hearing, which normally includes ID documents of the detainee as well as letters of support from family and/or friends. Once a bond amount is set, if the DHS attorney does not appeal, the detainee can be released that same day, by payment of the bond. Immigration bonds can be paid by family or friends at locations throughout the U.S.

Guerrero-Sanchez Bond Hearing

In a recent Third Circuit case, Guerrero-Sanchez v. Warden, York County Prison, 2018 WL 4608970 (3d Cir. 2018), a person was held in ICE detention for over twenty months before being released. This case applies to non-U.S. citizens residing in the Third Circuit (Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) who are facing lengthy detentions either because of ongoing appellate process or because their country is not accepting them for any number of reasons.

In deciding Mr. Guerrero-Sanchez's case, the Third Circuit identified due process concerns, and found that the government bears the burden of demonstrating, by clear and convincing evidence, that the individual is a flight risk or poses a danger to the community. The impact of this holding affects individuals who have been ordered removed but still detained for more than six months. This includes those who have been detained based on prior deportation orders but are now applying for withholding of removal. It also applies to those who have final orders and have petitioned to reopen their cases.

Given the Third Circuit’s ruling in the Guerrero-Sanchez case, those who have been ordered removed and remain in detention past six months are encouraged to explore their options with our immigration attorneys.

Immigrants with Criminal Convictions

Individuals who are illegally in the U.S., those who hold a temporary visa, or even green card holders, if they are convicted of crimes, may face deportation. Crimes can range from DUIs, to simple assault crimes, to moral turpitude crimes (shoplifting, theft, falsification of documents, etc.). Conviction of an aggravated felony is a deportable offense with no chance for bond.

State courts now link their database with the ICE department, therefore, even if an individual has only been charged with a crime, but not yet been found guilty, ICE has the right to place a detainer, arrest that individual and place them in removal proceedings. It is also common for green card holders with old convictions to be stopped upon return to the U.S. from a vacation or business trip and put into deportation proceedings. Our attorneys act immediately to have the person released from custody should they qualify.

These cases are often very complex. Conviction for what was once a college prank or a marijuana possession charge may now result in deportation for a temporary visitor visa holder or green card holder. Convictions involving “moral turpitude” (shoplifting, fraud-related offenses, theft, etc.) also can result in an individual being placed in removal proceedings, or possibly even losing their green card. It is thus advisable to seek the assistance of legal counsel should they face any such situation.

Any foreign national or permanent resident who is arrested or has a criminal charge or conviction should consult with us before entering a guilty plea to their crime, regardless of whether they are traveling to Canada, Mexico or overseas.

Reopening Criminal Convictions

Very often individuals plead guilty to criminal matters, but are not made aware of the immigration consequences of their guilty plea. They are then placed in removal proceedings. Under recent changes in the law it may be possible to have the criminal case re-opened through a post-conviction relief filing before the criminal court judge. Our offices are able to aid in this process or we may refer the client to a criminal defense attorney in the state where the offense occurred, who may be able to file such post-conviction relief petitions (PCRA) or "coram nobis" petitions. Once the petition is filed we work with the criminal prosecutor to come to a new plea offer, one that will not lead to our client’s deportation.

Deportation without a Conviction

Some people may be found inadmissible or deportable for criminal activity even without a criminal conviction. An arrest for spousal abuse or drug trafficking are examples where you may be put in removal proceedings without a conviction.

At the time of renewing a green card or naturalization, the USCIS will run a criminal record check and you may face deportation for certain criminal activity. Criminal conduct may also bar a person showing good moral character required for naturalization.

Thus, it is extremely important that arrested foreign nationals or green card holders consult with us so that we may work with criminal counsel to analyze any immigration consequences of the arrest, plea, and/or conviction. Ahmad & Associates has considerable experience in both criminal and immigration law to handle these types of cases.

Speak with an Immigration Attorney About a Deportation / Removal Proceeding

If you are facing removal proceedings, contact Ahmad & Associates to discuss your situation and schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney. We speak Spanish, Urdu, French, Hindi, and can make arrangements to have an interpreter available for many other languages.