What is a Master Calendar Hearing (MCH)
In the immigration system, the process for removal can seem daunting, complex, and stressful. If someone has been placed in the removal process it is very important that they seek the immediate help of an experienced immigration attorney. Attorneys can help clarify legal issues and represent the client’s best interests. One of the most important parts of the removal process is called the master calendar hearing. This hearing determines the schedule for removal and upcoming hearings, but the judge does not make a final decision on the case.
The master calendar hearing is the first part of the removal process. If you are facing removal, you are allowed to bring an attorney with you to this hearing, but you must also attend. You will know when your master calendar hearing is once you receive a Notice to Appear, which will include a time and place. The judge can question the attorneys from both sides in order to determine the appropriate course for the proceedings. The judge will set dates for upcoming hearings and other deadlines. This hearing does not allow you to make any arguments or legal defenses against your removal. Defenses are to be presented at a subsequent merits hearing.
During the Hearing
The judge will ask about the charges against you as they are listed in the Notice to Appear. At this hearing, you will have a chance to inform the judge whether you will seek asylum, voluntarily depart, adjust your status or any other actions. The judge will then set the appropriate dates for a course of action. The dates will include deadlines by which you must submit applications as well as a time for an individual merits hearing. It is incredibly important that you meet every single deadline the judge sets and attend all following hearings.