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Understanding your rights regarding the removal process -- III

In a series of posts, we've been taking an in-depth look at the removal process in order to help foreign nationals served with a "Notice to Appear" better understand what their rights are and what the future holds in terms of legal proceedings.

In our last post on this topic, we took a closer look at the "master hearing," which is essentially the first appearance a foreign national will make before the immigration court as part of the removal process. We'll continue this discussion in today's post, examining the specifics of the individual hearing.

As implied by the name, the individual hearing is the centerpiece of the removal process, revolving around each side making a case as to why the foreign national should either be removed from the country or allowed to stay.

In many ways, the individual hearing is much like a trial in that both the Department of Homeland Security and the foreign national's legal counsel will be afforded the opportunity to present evidence, examine witnesses and make closing arguments.

Once this process, which could take anywhere from hours to months, is completed, a final decision as to whether the foreign national will be allowed to remain in the U.S. will be handed down by the presiding immigration judge.

While the proceedings could be continued in order for the immigration judge to draft a written opinion, it's far more likely that they will make their ruling immediately after closing arguments.

A foreign national should be aware that in the event the immigration judge rules against them, there are still post-decision options available, including a motion to reopen, a motion to reconsider and a direct appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals. We'll examine these three options for challenging a decision in our final post on this topic.

Please remember, if you or a loved one have been served with an NTA, it's imperative not to panic and to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.

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