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The Facts About Removal Proceedings in the United States

What Is an NTA?

The Notice to Appear (NTA) is the “charging document” that signals the initiation of removal proceedings against a respondent. If you receive an NTA, it means that you must appear in Immigration Court on the date specified or at a date to be determined in the future.

The NTA must be served on the respondent personally or, if personal service is impracticable, it can be mailed to the respondent’s last known address or to his attorney, if s/he has one. The NTA must also be served on the Immigration Court that will be responsible for conducting the removal hearings in the instant matter.

Who Issues the NTA?

NTAs are issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through one of three major divisions. They are:

  • S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), whose cases fall into three categories: nonimmigrants who may be involved in criminal or terrorist activity, recent illegal entrants, and immigrant fugitives.
  • S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which typically serves NTAs if a nonimmigrant does not meet regulations he/she agreed to in order to be admitted, or if a nonimmigrant is found to have provided fraudulent information and documents in the admission process. It is worth noting that if ICE does not issue an NTA, neither will the USCIS.
  • S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which operates primarily at ports of entry and through U.S. Border Patrol. CPB issues NTAs to nonimmigrants deemed inadmissible if the nonimmigrant does not withdraw his/her admission, does not apply for asylum status, and is not placed into expedited removal. (NTAs are not served to nonimmigrants who are subject to expedited removal. More on expedited removals below.)

What’s on the NTA?

The NTA must contain the following information:

(1) The nature of the proceedings;

(2) The legal authority for the proceedings;

(3) The acts or conduct alleged to be in violation of the law;

(4) The charges against the respondent and the statutory provisions alleged to have been violated;

(5) That the respondent may be represented by counsel and will be provided a list of counsel and a period of at least 10 days to procure counsel;

(6) That the respondent must immediately provide the attorney general with a written address and telephone number (if any) where he or she may be contacted;

(7) That the respondent must immediately provide the AG with a written record of any change of address or telephone number;

(8) That if the respondent fails to comply with the notice requirements and does not provide an address (or change of address) and telephone number, a notice in writing need not be sent;

(9) The time and place of the proceedings; and

(10) That an in absentia order will be entered against the respondent for failure to appear unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The NTA is in English and need not be in any other language.

Removal Proceedings Before the Immigration Court

There are numerous ways a skilled attorney can attack or challenge the validity of a NTA. If successful, this could result in the termination of the removal proceedings. If unsuccessful, a skilled attorney would still be able to assist you in identifying potential options for relief from removal.

Other Types of Removal

Being issued an NTA initiates the proceedings for most removal cases, but these notices are not issued in certain types of removal, such as:

  • Administrative Removal is ordered if the DHS believes you are a nonresident who has been convicted of an “aggravated felony.” These proceedings are not brought before an immigration judge, but are determined by investigating criminal records.
  • Reinstatement of Removal is when a noncitizen who was previously deported has re-entered the United States illegally. After the DHS confirms your identity and interrogates you, the original removal order is then “reinstated” once you sign a Notice of Intent/Decision to Reinstate Prior Order. This removal process can be used on noncitizens anywhere in the United States.
  • Expedited Removal is typically used when noncitizens who have just arrived at the border or port of entry either do not have the proper documentation for their admission to the United States, or attempt to use fraudulent papers to get in. Since implementation, the DHS has expanded the expedited removal process to apply to noncitizens who:
    • live within 100 miles of the southwest border of the United States, who also
    • have illegally entered the United States within 14 days.

Most recently, the current administration has expanded expedited removal to include any apprehended immigrants, even those who entered the U.S. legally, regardless of location or how long they have lived in the U.S.

If you, a friend, or a loved one is facing removal proceedings or deportation, our skilled New York City immigration attorneys can provide you with a strong deportation defense – we will even meet you at the airport if that’s what it takes. Call Pollack, Pollack, Isaac & DeCicco, LLP, at 212-203-4795 or contact us online today.

Additional Information:

American Immigration Council

Expedited Removal:

Removal Proceedings: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services


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