Immigration Court Terms

Immigration Court Terms

Attending Immigration Court can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. Understanding who the different parties are and what to expect at court helps to ease some anxiety. Below is a glossary of commonly used terms and phrases used at Immigration court.

Asylum: Asylum is a humanitarian form of relief (defense to deportation). In immigration court, an individual may apply for asylum defensively or may renew an affirmative application that was previously denied by the Asylum office. To qualify for asylum, an individual must show that they have suffered persecution or have a well-founded fear of suffering persecution on account of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA): The BIA may review most immigration judge (IJ) decisions. If you receive an unfavorable decision from an IJ, you may be able to appeal the decision to the BIA.

Bond: When someone is taken into custody by an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officer or a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer, the person may be released on their own recognizance, or given a bond. A bond is a set amount of money that a person must pay to be released from custody; if given a bond, the bond must be paid in full. An Immigration Judge (IJ) may also issue a bond, or reduce a bond previously issued.

Cancellation of Removal (COR): COR is a form of relief (defense to deportation) in immigration court. To qualify for COR you must have been continuously residing in the US for at least ten years, have good moral character, have not been convicted of certain crimes, and your removal would cause ‘exceptional and extremely unusual hardship’ to your United States citizen or lawful permanent resident qualifying relatives.

Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR): The EOIR is part of the Department of Justice and is made up of the immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Immigration Judge (IJ): The IJ is the person who makes decisions at immigration court.

Notice to Appear (NTA): The Notice to Appear acts like a ‘charging’ document, in immigration court. It lays out the reasons as to why the Department of Homeland Security believes that an individual is removable from the United States and sets forth various facts about the person.

Office of the Chief Counsel (OCC): The OCC technically represents the Department of Homeland Security and acts as the ‘prosecutor’ in a removal case.

Trial Attorney (TA): The TA is the individual attorney who acts as the ‘opposing counsel’ or the prosecutor, in a removal/deportation case. This person will be seated opposite you at immigration court.

Voluntary Departure (VD): Voluntary Departure is a form of relief that provides an alternative to an order of deportation. With VD, a foreign national agrees to depart the United States voluntarily, thus avoiding a formal order of removal. VD can be beneficial to individuals who have a lawful way to return to the United States.

Withholding of Removal: Withholding of Removal is like asylum in that an applicant must demonstrate that they have a well-founded fear of persecution if returned to their country of origin. All things being equal, asylum is a better option than withholding; however, some people who do not qualify for asylum may be eligible for withholding of removal.

If you have an upcoming hearing in immigration court, we encourage you to contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and who knows how to fight these cases! Please contact our deportation defense attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, at 510-488-1020 to see how we can defend you today!

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