Immigration Court

Immigration Court

Paniotto Law Firm provides legal representation in Los Angeles, Adelanto Immigration Court, Otay Mesa Immigration court, San Diego Immigration court and out of state immigration courts.

IF YOU RECEIVED A “NOTICE TO APPEAR” from the Immigration Service or another letter from the immigration court requiring you to appear in immigration court on a certain date, we urge you to make an appointment with our office by calling (213)534-1827 for a first free consultation so that we could advise you what to do next.

If you received Notice to Appear this means that you are in this country without documents and the US. government seeks to deport you back to your country of origin based on the undocumented presence charges or in some cases based on the commission of a deportable criminal offense by you.
Immigration Court handles cases of individuals in removal/deportation proceedings that usually take place in the area where undocumented immigrant is being detained or where he/she resides.  Normally, an individual in deportation (or removal) proceedings can not be deported without an opportunity to seek relief – various immigration benefits in immigration court. Such immigration relief/benefits may include political asylum, adjustment of status to that of a permanent resident based on permanent residency/citizenship of immigrant’s relatives , cancellation of removal, and other immigration benefits.  If the immigration court decides that immigrant is eligible for permanent residency based on one of the listed forms of immigration relief or other forms of immigration relief, the immigrant will not be deported and instead will be granted permanent residency status in the U.S.


Unlike in criminal court proceedings immigrants who are being deported through an immigration court system do not have a right to hire a free public defender and are usually requested by the judge to find a private attorney to represent them in immigration court. The immigration law and immigration court procedures are usually very complex and difficult to understand, especially for the immigrants who are often uneducated, unsophisticated and do not speak English fluently.  Qualified immigration lawyers are normally familiar with both the immigration law and immigration court procedures. Even though the final decision in your immigration case will be made by an immigration judge, if you are represented by a qualified immigration lawyer in the immigration court, skilled immigration lawyer may dramatically increase your chances of winning the case and either getting your greencard back or getting a greencard through immigration court.

What happens if I do not attend the immigration court hearing?

The U.S. immigration laws require that the immigrant who has an appointment with immigration court, attend every immigration court hearing regardless of whether you have an immigration lawyer to represent you in immigration court or not.
If you fail to appear at the immigration court hearing without a good excuse like severe illness or death in the family, the immigration court judge will issue a deportation order against you in absentia.  Once the deportation order is issued, the immigration officers/ ICE unit officers will have a right to go to your house to arrest you and deport you.

Do I need to bring an immigration lawyer to my first immigration court hearing?

Although it is advisable for you to find a qualified immigration lawyer as soon as you received an appointment letter with immigration court, if you don’t yet have the money to hire an immigration lawyer, you can go to the first hearing alone.
Once you come to the immigration court, you have to find the courtroom where you were scheduled to appear. In the immigration court courtroom you have to talk to the immigration court clerk who is usually sitting on the side of the immigration judge’s desk. The immigration court clerk will register your presence in the immigration court courtroom to make sure the immigration judge does not deport you based on your failure to appear in immigration court. Its very important to let the immigration court clerk know that you’ve arrived to the immigration court. After checking in you should quietly sit down if the space is available in the immigration court courtroom and wait to be called by the immigration clerk.  When your name is called, and you are talking to the immigration judge you should tell the immigration judge that you WOULD LIKE TO GET A CONTINUANCE TO HIRE AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER TO REPRESENT YOU IN YOUR IMMIGRATION COURT PROCEEDINGS. The immigration judges are usually generous with continuances for unrepresented immigrants to get an immigration lawyer. However, if you’ve already had one continuance to get an immigration lawyer, and still could not find a lawyer or still do not have the money to hire an immigration lawyer, you can not get continuances forever.   Usually after the first two continuances to get an immigration lawyer, the immigration judges lose patience and may insist that you represent yourself before the immigration court  in applying for asylum, cancellation of removal, adjustment of status or any other case to get a greencard/permanent residency in the United States.  If you feel comfortable representing yourself in immigration court, you have a right to do so. Most people do not know immigration law and immigration court procedures and are not able to competently represent themselves in immigration court.  If you don’t feel comfortable to represent yourself in immigration court, the best course of action would be to hire a Los Angeles based immigration lawyer as soon as possible and even if you don’t do it before the first immigration court hearing, you should certainly hire an immigration lawyer after the immigration judge granted the first continuance to you and should not test immigration judge’s patience.

How many hearings do I need to attend in the immigration court?

The number of immigration court hearings varies depending on the nature of your immigration case.  Some immigration cases may take more  than 7 or 8 immigration court hearings and several years to process through the immigration court system.  This may happen due to the complexity of your immigration case, due to additional continuances (changes in immigration court dates) requested by you, your immigration lawyer, government immigration lawyer or made by the immigration judge on his own initiative. Some immigration court date changes (continuances) happen because you changed your immigration lawyers.
Some immigration cases, on the other hand do not last more than 6 months. Regardless of how long your immigration court case will last, you must be patient and must attend every immigration court hearing to avoid deportation order in absentia.

Can I travel during my immigration court proceedings?

The immigration court proceedings are called “removal proceedings” – which basically mean that that the U.S. government is trying to remove/deport you from the United States back to your country by virtue of the immigration court removal proceedings.  If you want to help the U.S. government to accomplish this goal sooner rather than later, go ahead and travel during the deportation proceedings.
Traveling during the immigration court proceedings may be fatal to your immigration case and should be avoided unless a true emergency exists that may be more important for you than your right to stay in the United States legally


Scroll to Top