You’ve just received your Notice to Appear… now what?
The Notice to Appear (NTA) is the official document that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) sends you when starting the removal (deportation) process against you. Getting an NTA means that you must appear in Immigration Court to go through the removal process or defend yourself against it.
1) Make note of the court date.
The bottom of the NTA may show the date, time, and place of your initial Master Calendar Hearing. If not, you will receive a Notice of Hearing separately. This date is incredibly important because if you do not appear for this hearing, the judge may order you removed in absentia (“in your absence”). If this happens, you may lose your right to apply for relief from removal.
According to the law, there must be at least ten days between the date that the NTA was served and the date that your court hearing is scheduled. If you so choose, you can waive this 10-day requirement if you are in DHS custody and have not been released on bond.
2) Carefully read over the personal details that are listed in the NTA.
The NTA will include a lot of details that you must review very carefully to make sure that there are no errors. The NTA will first list your name and any aliases that you may have used. It will also have your alien registration number (A#), date of birth, and address. You also need to review all of this information to make sure that the listed information is correct and that there are no words or names that are misspelled or any omissions.
3) Understand the allegations that are being made against you.
The NTA will also list the factual allegations being made against you. These allegations will usually be that you are not a U.S. citizen or national of the United States. It will also list the date and place that you entered the U.S. as well as whether or not your entry was authorized, and if so, for how long.
It will also give the alleged reason(s) why you are removable. These might include any criminal convictions against you, that you have remained in the U.S. beyond your visa date, or that you entered the U.S. without a valid visa.
4) Understand the charges that are being brought against you.
The NTA will then list the section(s) of law which you are accused of having violated. These are essentially the lawful reason(s) for which the U.S. government has initiated removal proceedings against you. The role of your immigration attorney is to help you understand the nature of those charges and defend you during the removal hearing, including seeking any relief from removal which you may be eligible to pursue.
5) Find the right immigration attorney.
Probably the most important single thing that you can do is to find an immigration attorney that is experienced in the different aspects of U.S. immigration law. No two immigration cases are exactly the same and there are no simple and/or general solutions to dealing with an NTA.
This process is complex and you should not go through it alone. The attorneys at Saleh & Associates are experienced in all aspects of U.S. immigration law, including removal defense. We are here to help; please give us a call today at (305) 448-0077 for experienced and dedicated legal counsel.