What are Notices to Appear (NTAs)?
January 17, 2019
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Article by Scott D. Pollock & Associates, P.C.
January 17, 2019
Highlights from the June 29, 2018 Policy Memorandum Titled: “Guidance for the Referral of Cases and Issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs) in Cases Involving Inadmissible and Deportable Aliens”
What is a Notice to Appear?
A Notice to appear or NTA is, a notice to appear is a charging document that can be issued by any of the three branches of the Department of Homeland Security – USCIS, ICE, or CBP – to place a person they deem removable in removal proceedings.
What are the key takeaways from the new notice to appear policy memorandum?
The first key takeaway is that the memo expands USCISs authority to issue notices to appear. USCIS was seen as the service branch of DHS and when USCIS deemed that someone was removable, they would refer the applicant’s case to ICE which is the enforcement branch of DHS. Now, under the new guidance, USCIS will be able to issue an NTA upon denial of an application for immigration benefits if the person is deemed removable.
The second key takeaway affects the category of individuals to whom USCIS may issue a notice to appear. The new memo includes language that is extremely broad and basically states that USCIS may issue a notice to appear to any individual who is not lawfully present at the time an immigration benefit is denied.
Does the new memo affect employment based and humanitarian petitions?
As of yet, the new notice to appear policy memo will not be implemented with respect to employment-based petitions and humanitarian applications and petitions at this time. Regardless, since the memorandum is new, USCIS states that it is taking an incremental approach to implement the new policy memo, meaning that it is ironing out the details on the memos implementation. Thus, it is important to seek counsel from an experienced immigration attorney when seeking an immigration benefit to make sure everything is done according to the law and conforms to the constantly changing regulations.
Can you give an example of who can be affected by the new NTA policy memorandum?
Students who are in the United States under an F-1 student visa may want to seek an extension of status or change their status. These students apply for their extension of status or change of status during the time that their F-1 student visa is still valid. However, since USCIS is having such prolonged delays in the adjudication of many types of cases, the student’s F-1 visa may lapse. Under the new memo, if their application is denied and the student’s F-1 visa lapsed during the time their application was being adjudicated, when USCIS denies the student’s application, the student will no longer have lawful status in the United States, meaning that USCIS may issue an NTA and place the student in removal proceedings.
What should people do if they are issued a notice to appear and are placed in removal proceedings?
First step is to contact an experienced immigration attorney who focuses on removal defense. They will be able assess the person’s best legal options and help them navigate the complex immigration court system. Secondly, they must make sure they attend all their court hearings and not simply ignore the notice to appear since this could have extremely negative implications.