Assad Hafeez of Legal Strategies Company, Sacramento, explains what the Master Calendar is, and what to expect.

You may see on your “Notice of Hearing” that it provides a date of issuance, a date of the hearing, a time, and a department. The Notice of Hearing provides an address of the Immigration Court. But each time, the Notice of Hearing will indicate what kind of hearing it is: Master Calendar or a Individual Hearing. This article helps explain what a “Master Calendar” hearing is.

The Master Calendar hearing is essentially a planning session for the Court. It is typically not a day in court where your case or immigration matter will be decided or officially resolved. Instead, this day in court involves informing the judge and all parties, who is involved in the case, what their Alien number or “A#”, the basic charges from the government, and coordinates if pleadings or responses are ready to be made against the government’s charges. The Court considers if the parties need more time to find attorneys, or if there are any other planning issues.

The Court also desires to find out what reliefs the accused intends to bring or allege, if any, or if any are known at that time.

In Master Calendar hearings, sometimes people start contesting charges right away, or the accused will request and typically be granted more time to obtain an attorney. Sometimes people will request a change of venue, or to move the case to another location, for example when someone wants to move a case from Texas, to California.

Sometimes the accused already has an attorney, but desires to change attorneys, or no longer work with their attorney. And many times, the accused may need to update the court with their current address or contact information.

As you can see, the Master Calendar is not about making a final decision or resolution of the case, but more about planning and keeping the Immigration Court informed about the development and procedural history of the case.

This is all done in preparation and before the final “Individual Hearing” which is the subject of another article. It is in the “Individual Hearing” or sometimes called “Merits Hearing” that a final decision is indeed made on the immigration case.

It is essential that the person accused of being removable or deportable appear to any and all scheduled hearings, or else one risks being ordered removed “in absentia” or without your presence.