An immigration judge presides over immigration courts. Immigration refers to the process of moving permanently from one country to another, either legally or illegally, and attempting to set up permanent residence in that new country. An immigration judge may preside over a number of different matters related to the immigration process.
When individuals immigrate to a new country, certain legal requirements must generally be met. For example, most countries have steps a person must take to establish legal residency. These steps can include obtaining a visa or other citizenship documents. In the United States, for example, a person could obtain a work visa or could obtain a permanent visa or green card by marrying a United States citizen.
Other laws may apply to who can immigrate and when. For example, in the United States, asylum may be granted to those facing political prosecution within their own countries. The prosecution must fall into certain types of abuses that are considered human rights violations.
In most countries, immigrating without following the proper steps is illegal. For example, a person who sneaks into a country without permission may be in violation of the law and asked to leave. The same may be true for an individual who stays in a country without receiving permission to do so, even if he entered legally; for example, if a person enters on a tourist visa and does not leave, this can be illegal.
An immigration judge deals with all of these issues of immigration law. He can make decisions on whether an immigrant acted legally or illegally in entering the country. He can also make decisions about what should happen to the immigrant as a result of the behavior.
For example, an immigration judge may preside over deportation hearings. These are hearings in which the department that enforces immigration attempts to have an immigrant sent back to his own country. In the United States, for example, the Immigration and Naturalization Services would bring a deportation case in front of an immigration judge to attempt to have an accused illegal alien deported.
An immigration judge also presides over asylum hearings. He may decide when an individual should be granted political asylum and permitted to stay in the country. He does this on the basis of hearing evidence presented regarding the reasons the immigrant was persecuted in his own country and the justification for providing the immigrant with protection.