EOIR Glossary: Navigating Legal Jargon in Immigration Hearings

Understanding the language used in EOIR (Executive Office for Immigration Review) hearings is crucial for effective navigation of the legal process. Here is a glossary of common terms to help you comprehend the proceedings more effectively:



Asylum: Protection for individuals in the U.S. who have fled their home country due to persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution based on race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.


BIA (Board of Immigration Appeals): The appellate body for immigration matters, responsible for reviewing decisions made by immigration judges.


Cancellation of Removal: A form of relief that may be available to certain non-permanent residents facing removal proceedings, allowing them to stay in the U.S. in “green card” states. 


Deportation: Another term for removal, referring to the process of expelling an individual from the U.S. due to immigration violations.


EOIR (Executive Office for Immigration Review): The office within the U.S. Department of Justice responsible for overseeing immigration court proceedings.


Hearing: A legal proceeding where evidence is presented, witnesses are examined, and arguments are made before an immigration judge.


I-485 Application: Application to register permanent residence or adjust status, commonly referred to as green card applications.


Judge: The immigration judge presiding over the hearing and making decisions on the case.


Master Calendar Hearing: An initial court appearance where respondents respond to charges and discuss procedural matters.


Notice to Appear (NTA): The official document initiating removal proceedings against an individual and charging the reasons for removal/deportation.


Order of Removal: A decision by an immigration judge ordering the removal of an individual from the U.S.


Persecution: Harassment, harm, or discrimination inflicted on an individual due to their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.


Relief: Any remedy or protection from removal that an individual may seek during immigration proceedings.


Status: The legal standing of an individual in the U.S., such as being a lawful permanent resident or having a certain visa status.


TPS (Temporary Protected Status): A temporary immigration status granted to individuals from designated countries facing conditions that prevent them from returning safely.


USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services): The agency responsible for immigration-related services, including processing immigration petitions and applications.


Voluntary Departure: An option allowing an individual to leave the U.S. voluntarily instead of facing a formal removal order.