What to Do If You Receive an NTA Form
On June 28, 2018, the USCIS set forth new policy guidance for the issuance of Notice to Appear (NTA) forms. These updated guidelines enable immigration agencies to send out NTAs in situations where a denial of USCIS benefits causes an applicant to lose their legal resident status within the United States. This represents a significant adjustment to original NTA policies, which stated that charging documents could only be issued if a petition was rejected due to ongoing criminal conduct, fraud, misrepresentation, or national security concerns (deportable offenses).
If you’re unsure about how an NTA notice could impact your USCIS application and resident status, then here’s what you need to know.
What Is An NTA?
The NTA form is issued by the Department of Homeland Security through one of its subsidiary divisions, which include:
- The Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE)
- The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBP)
These forms may be delivered personally via an immigration official or mailed directly to your last known physical address.
Receipt of an NTA indicates that the immigration authorities have initiated deportation proceedings against you. As part of these proceedings, you will be required to appear in an immigration court at the date, time, and location displayed on the charging document. If you do not appear in court at the scheduled date then you will be served with a deportation order and may be barred from re-entering the United States for a period of up to 10 years.
By law, court hearings must be scheduled for at least 10 days after service of the initial notice so that the recipient has time to arrange legal representation and get their defense in order. However, you may decide to waive this grace period if you are currently in custody and wish to clear up your case as quickly as possible.
What Is In An NTA?
Apart from court schedules, the NTA also contains information about your case and the context surrounding it. Within the document you will find:
- Biographical details about the recipient, including their full name and address.
- The nature of proceedings. These checkboxes communicate the reason why removal proceedings have been initiated against you (e.g. because you entered the country illegally, you were denied entry at the border, or you are a legal resident that is no longer authorized to remain in the US).
- Factual allegations about your status which include:
- How and when you entered the country.
- The reasons for your removal.
- The specific immigration laws that you have violated.
These allegations are used as a basis for the proposed deportation order.
Upon receipt of the form, ensure that your personal information and status have been currently categorized, and that all supporting details are accurate. If you feel that the immigration agency has made a mistake then you and your attorney must deny the charges and produce evidence to the contrary.
What Happens During Court Proceedings?
At court, you and your attorney will present your defense against the charges listed in the NTA, while the DHS will attempt to support their case. Based on this information, the immigration judge will decide:
- Whether you should be kept in jail for the duration of the case.
- Whether you should be immediately deported.
- Whether you should be granted relief against deportation (granted legal residence or asylum, or allowed to retain your current legal resident status).
You will have the right to appeal court decisions based on new evidence.
If You Receive an NTA
You should contact a qualified immigration attorney as soon as you can. An experienced legal representative will help you understand the specifics of your NTA, and immediately begin building a case against your deportation.