© Attorney Farhad Sethna 2013
It is a fact of life that foreign-born individuals who are not US citizens may find themselves in immigration court. Sometimes, they are placed in removal proceedings because they have committed a crime. In other cases, they may have overstayed their visas or entered illegally. In some instances, their application for an immigration benefit might have been denied.
It is important therefore to understand how to prepare for immigration court. On my blog, I have a series of articles describing immigration court, what to expect, and the type of relief available. This article deals specifically with the effort that any person charged with a removable offense needs to do in order to prepare for his or her immigration court hearing.
First of all, make a detailed time-line of all the events relevant to your case. That would include dates going back to the time you entered the United States or perhaps even before that. If you have an asylum case, it is very important to prepare a detailed time-line describing the events when you were persecuted, where those events took place, the identity of the people who persecuted you, and the reasons for the persecution. If you complained to the police, or were arrested and detained, or you were admitted to the hospital, collect as many police or medical records as possible. If you are not claiming asylum, then you should prepare a time-line listing the various immigration and other relevant events in your case.
Second, start working on evidence that supports your case. For example, if you are married to a US citizen, accumulate as much evidence as possible about your marriage. You may need to obtain affidavits from friends and family members who are familiar with your circumstances.
Third, any identity documents you may have. If you used a fake or false identity, collect documents related to that particular identity as well. If you filed taxes and paid taxes or received refunds, collect all those tax return and payroll or income statements.
Fourth, if you were ever arrested or convicted in the USA or any other country, collect all the records of each incident and any result- for example- a fine, or jail time, or any other punishment. If you were ever arrested and removed (deported) from the USA, provide that information to your attorney. If you ever entered the USA illegally, make a record of all the dates and locations. This includes any time you were arrested at the US border and returned directly to your home country or to Canada or Mexico.
Finally, if you have US citizen children or other immediate relatives who are US citizens, collect all their relevant information as well which include items such as birth certificates, hospital records and school records. Finally, organize all this evidence in a logical fashion, either by type of evidence or chronologically. Your immigration attorney will be very happy to receive a clear roadmap of your immigration and family history!
About the author: Attorney Farhad Sethna has practiced law for over 20 years. Since 1996, he has been an adjunct professor of Immigration Law at the University of Akron, School of Law, in Akron, Ohio. His practice is limited to immigration and small business. With offices in Akron and Dover, Ohio, Attorney Sethna represents clients in all types of immigration cases. Our number is: (330)-384-8000. Please send your general immigration questions to AttorneySethna@immigration-america.com. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.
This is only general legal information. Please consult a qualified immigration attorney for advice on your specific case.