What is Immigration Court?

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  • Written By: Renee Booker
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 01 February 2020
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Immigration court is the court operated at the highest level of a country's government that hears cases related to foreign nationals and their presence within the country. An immigration court generally has the ability to decide who is allowed to remain in the country, what status a foreign national has in a country and who must be forcefully removed from the country. Each country determines its own entrance requirements as well as its own work authorization, residency and citizenship requirements. Any person wishing to visit, work in or reside in another country must obtain the proper permission. Specific requirements will vary by country and by the country of origin of the foreign national. 

An immigration court will hear cases where there is a dispute arising from the presence of a foreign national in the country. A common example of a case heard in an immigration court is a removal proceeding. When a foreign national is alleged to be present in the country without the proper permission, a removal proceeding will be initiated in immigration court. The immigration court will then decide whether the foreign national is, indeed, illegally present in the country and might order his or her removal.


Immigration courts are not limited to hearing removal cases. An immigration court might also ultimately decide cases regarding petitions made by a foreign national who is legally present in the country to extend his or her stay or to change his or her status within the country. For example, a foreign national might have entered the country as a visitor but could want to apply for permission to work in that country. A foreign national might also be present in the country as an employee of a multinational corporation but subsequently decide to remain in the country and petition for residency. 

In many countries, the immigration process is administrative in nature, meaning that a government agency reviews and approves or denies the application without the need for a court appearance or intervention. If, however, an application is denied, then the applicant often has the right to appeal the decision to an immigration court. In that case, the court will review the facts of the case and render a judicial decision regarding the application. 


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