What To Do If You Get A Notice To Appear Before Immigration Court

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Non-U.S. citizens who are convicted of serious crimes or in the country unlawfully may receive a Notice to Appear (NTA) in immigration court hearings.

Receiving a notice to appear in immigration court doesn't mean an immigrant will be deported. It means the person must go through the court proceedings in front of an immigration judge.

There are many ways an immigrant can fight deportation after receiving a notice to appear, including:

  • Prosecutorial discretion by persuading the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement not to pursue the case,
  • Post-conviction relief for criminal charges,
  • Winning the deportation case in court,
  • Challenging omissions and defects in the Notice to Appear,
  • Seeking relief from a deportation order through:
    • Asylum, a “U” visa, or other protection against torture or persecution, or
    • If a criminal charge wasn't one classified as an “aggravated felony offense,” one can get relief from deportation through the cancellation of removal, or  
  • voluntary departure.

An experienced immigration lawyer can help under Notices to Appear in court better. At The Law Office Jason A. Dennis, we have helped thousands of immigrants with their notices to appear and we can help you, too. To schedule a no-cost initial consultation, contact our New York law firm today at (347) 868-6100

What is the Meaning of Notice to Appear?

A Notice to Appear is a legal summons to appear in front of an immigration judge. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issues this notice. 

This notice may be served following an immigrant's application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for immigration benefits, such as naturalization or adjustment of status, and the benefits are denied because of:

  • Fraud, or
  • Certain issues such as termination of refugee status, denial of Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence, or termination of Conditional Residence Status.

Further, a Notice to Appear is more likely to be served after a non-U.S. citizen is convicted of:

  • A criminal offense that makes an alien inadmissible to the United States citizenship, or
  • deportable crime or removal crime.

The list of removal and inadmissible criminal charges is long. But it includes the following charges among others:

  • Drug trafficking,
  • Assault with a deadly weapon (“ADW”),
  • Kidnapping
  • DUI with multiple convictions,
  • Rape
  • Murder,
  • Prostitution-related activity, and
  • Sexual abuse of a minor.

How Do I Receive a Notice to Appear?

An immigrant may receive the Notice to Appear (Form I-862) by mail at the alien’s last-known address, or personally, from an immigration officer.

If the alien has a deportation lawyer representing them, the lawyer may also receive a copy of the NTA.

The NTA includes a statement of the charges. Also, it'll set forth the alleged reasons the immigrant is subject to deportation, for instance:

  • The immigrant has been convicted of a deportable crime,
  • The immigrant entered the United States illegally, or
  • The immigrant overstayed their visa.

The DHS will also file the Notice to Appear with the immigrant court or the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). Filing the Notice to Appear with the immigration court triggers the commencement of deportation proceedings.

Who Issues the NTA in immigration court?

With immigrants convicted of a crime, the Notice to Appear is often issued by an ICE officer.

ICE officers have considerable jurisdiction over whether to issue an NTA in any specific case. Their highest priority is deporting immigrants who are a threat to public safety or a danger to national security.

USCIS may also issue a Notice to Appear — when it finds a non-citizen hasn't maintained lawful status after admission complied with regulations governing admission.

And finally, United States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) may issue a Notice to Appear when a non-resident arriving in the country.:

How Do You Find Your Immigration Court Date?

An NTA will contain the time, date, and location for the initial immigration hearing commonly referred to as the “Master Calendar Hearing” (MCH). Alternatively, this information is sent in through a separate Notice of Hearing.

Under American immigration law, the MCH takes place no earlier than ten days from the service of the NTA. This gives the alien time to find a deportation lawyer, if desired, and to get their documentation in order.

Aliens may hire an NYC immigration attorney at their own expense. Or they can seek the services of a pro bono lawyer.

An alien may also waive the 10-day notice requirement. This is desirable, especially if the immigrant is being held in ICE custody and can't, or pay for, a bond.

What Should You Expect When You Go to Immigration Court Proceedings?

At every immigration hearing, expect to see the judge and an attorney who represents the DHS. The DHS attorney also represents the government and is the prosecutor for your deportation case. 

At the start of your case, the immigration court judge will put you under oath. The judge will ask you what's your best language is and your name. If you don’t have an attorney, the judge will remind you of your right to hire a lawyer and may give you additional time to look for a lawyer. The judge will also ask you if you received a copy of the NTA.

The judge will require you to enter pleadings and arguments to the charges in the NTA. This means that you have to answer whether the allegations are true or false and whether you admit or deny that you have may have violated the American immigration laws. If the court finds that you may have violated laws and you're eligible for deportation, you must inform the court whether you're applying for relief from deportation.

Contact Our New York Immigration Lawyers Today for Legal Advice!

If you or a loved one have been served with an NTA in immigration court, we invite you to contact our legal team today at (347) 868-6100 for a free initial consultation. Our New York immigration attorneys have extensive experience fighting removal proceedings and challenging criminal convictions. To speak to one of our skilled New York immigration lawyers about your case, call us or complete the contact form on this page.

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