The moment that a person receives a Notice to Appear from a federal immigration agency can be frightening and intimidating. You may ask yourself, why does the government want to deport me? What did I do wrong? How can they bring up that criminal case from a decade ago?
However, its important to remember that receiving an NTA (as we call it in immigration circles) is not the end of the world, in fact, sometimes it can be the best thing that can happen for some people. In this blog I will answer the following question, “I received a notice to appear, what do I do now?”
A Notice to Appear or NTA or Form I-862 as it is also called, is the notice to a non-citizen that one of the immigration agencies has decided that you have done something for which they think you should be deported. The agencies that can issue Notices To Appear are U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These are all related agencies under the umbrella of the Department of Homeland Security, but each serves a different function in that dysfunctional federal family.
USCIS usually issues NTAs after a person has applied for an immigration benefit like Asylum (I-589), Adjustment of Status (I-485) or a Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence (I-751). If USCIS determines that you are not eligible for the benefit and you are removable from the United States, they will mail you an NTA and tell you to appear for Immigration Court.
ICE usually issues NTAs after a person has been arrested and/or convicted of a criminal offense that makes them removable from the United States. If you are in a state or federal prison, an ICE officer may come and visit you and ask you a bunch of questions, obtain your conviction records and then serve you with an NTA. You may ask: what are the crimes for which I can be deported? The NTA will likely reference the crimes for which you were convicted and indicate that you are removable from the United States for having committed a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude (CIMT), Controlled Substance Offense, Aggravated Felony, Firearms Offense or Crime of Domestic Violence.
CBP (Border Patrol) usually issues NTAs because they caught someone crossing the U.S.-Mexico Border without a visa or without inspection. CBP are also the officers that you see at airports and seaports. They are the officers who inspect your passport, green card or visa and determine if they should let you into the country. Many times, lawful permanent residents returning from trips abroad are stopped by CBP and sent to secondary or deferred inspection because CBP thinks the person is inadmissible to the United States for one of many reasons. If CBP determines that you committed a crime in the past that is a CIMT or a controlled substance offense, they may give you an NTA and tell you to go see an Immigration Judge. If CBP thinks that a lawful permanent resident has been outside of the country for too long, usually more than a year, then they will probably give you an NTA and say that you abandoned your status.
Those scenarios should cover about 90% of the people who receive NTAs. Now that you know WHY you received a Notice to Appear, its time to talk about what you do WHEN you receive a Notice to Appear. That answer is easy; as soon as you get the Notice to Appear, make an appointment to see an experienced and hopefully Board Certified immigration attorney (like me: https://www.slgattorneysflorida.com/john-gihon.html) to discuss your case.
It is important to seek counsel as soon as possible because an experienced immigration attorney can help you get in front of the issues that arise in every immigration removal case. An experienced immigration attorney can help you fight your case in immigration court, make sure your rights are protected, explain the process to you, and explain your options for immigration relief. Check out our deportation defense page for more information: https://www.slgattorneysflorida.com/deportation-and-removal.html
Sometimes, and only if it is in your best interest, an immigration attorney can convince the government to not even file the NTA in Immigration Court and to leave you alone. This is called a favorable exercise of prosecutorial discretion.
Bottom line: As soon as you receive a Notice to Appear, call an experienced immigration attorney as soon as possible to consult about your case. Remember, immigration attorneys can practice anywhere in the United States, so just because your immigration case is in New York, doesn’t mean you can’t call an Orlando Immigration Attorney. You should choose an immigration attorney to help you who you trust and you think can do a good job for you based upon their training and experience.
John Gihon is a Florida Bar Board Certified expert in Immigration and Nationality Law and a Crimmigration Consultant. You can contact John If you need an Orlando Immigration Attorney or you received a Notice to Appear, no matter where you live in the world. http://www.floridacrimmigration.com
Visit our website for more information about SLG: http://www.slgattorneys.com