Removal proceedings begin with a Notice to Appear (NTA), which is a document issued to noncitizens who the government believes are inadmissible or removable, and who will not be subjected to a summary form of removal such as reinstatement of removal or expedited removal. In other words, it is issued to place an individual in a full removal proceeding before an immigration judge, which will determine whether the noncitizen is to be removed or allowed to remain in the U.S. Various officials within DHS are empowered to issue NTAs in a variety of circumstances.
The NTA explains why the government thinks you should be deported from the U.S. and it normally provides you with your first court date.
It is extremely important that you appear at all of your immigration court dates. You cannot send someone (even your immigration attorney) to appear in your place. If you do not appear at your scheduled hearing, the hearing will take place in absentia (in your absence), and the judge will likely order you deported. In this situation, all the government has to do is prove that the NTA was properly served on you, and that you are removable.
If you miss your court hearing, you may move to reopen the case, but only if you can:
– show “exceptional circumstances” for being absent;
– prove that you did not receive notice; or
– prove that you were in state or federal custody.
Under INA 239(a)(1) (2012), an NTA should include:
– the nature of the proceedings;
– the legal authority under which the proceedings are conducted;
– the acts or conduct alleged to be in violation of the law;
– the charges against the noncitizen and the statutory provisions alleged to have been violated.
The nature of the proceedings is represented on the NTA by three checkable boxes labeled:
– “You are an arriving alien”;
– “You are an alien present in the United States who has not been admitted or paroled”, or
– “You have been admitted to the United States, but are deportable for the following reasons stated below.”
The NTA not only provides notice of the charges against the noncitizen but also serves as notification of the time and place of his hearing before the immigration judge (“IJ”). It is possible to change venue after the NTA has been filed by filing a motion to change venue and demonstrating good cause. You can apply for a change of venue at any time during your case, but the judge is more likely to grant you your request if you apply early. If you plan to request a change of venue, you should do so at the master calendar hearing.
If an individual hearing is held, you will be given the opportunity to give testimony and have witnesses testify on his or her behalf. At the conclusion of the hearing, the immigration judge will either make an oral decision on the matter, or will release a written decision at a later date.
If you have been ordered deported, you have 30 days from the date of the decision to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).