If you enter the country illegally or otherwise have issues with your immigration, you may end up in immigration court. This system differs from the civil or criminal courts within the regular justice system.
The National Immigration Forum explains immigration court handles removals and other decisions about immigration issues only. If you are going to court, it helps to know what to expect.
Right to counsel
While you have many basic rights regardless of your immigration status, you do not have the right to counsel in immigration court. This is because this court is civil and not criminal. The right to have an attorney provided for you only applies in criminal court. It does not matter for what reason you are before the court. Even if you are facing a criminal charge, you still do not get an attorney for free.
There are many delays within any type of court system, but the immigration courts have exceptional delays. You can expect to wait quite some time to have your case heard. There are only about 350 immigration court judges in the country who are responsible for over 700,000 cases at any given time.
Once you go through court and the judge makes his or her decision, you can appeal. This would result in a review of your case by the Attorney General or a federal court.
Immigration court usually will be a slow process. It can also be confusing, which means having legal representation is important, but you will not get an attorney for free. There is the chance you can appeal if you do not like the decision made.