What is a Notice to Appear? A Notice to Appear (usually referred to as an NTA) is the document that the government normally uses to begin removal proceedings against a non U.S. citizen. It is a charging document.

What should you do if you receive an NTA? It is best to retain competent immigration counsel if you have been served with an NTA because of the complexities of immigration law.

Why should I not gloss over my NTA?

Every NTA should be properly examined for possible ways to challenge it. In a majority of cases, there may not be any way to attack an NTA as an initial matter. But in some cases, a valid initial challenge to an NTA may result in proceedings being terminated in your favor. Below are some ways to attack the NTA:

  • The legal authority under which the proceeding is based: Look to make sure that this information is contained in the NTA sufficient to advise you of the legal authority upon which the proceeding is based. If this information is absent, you may challenge the NTA on that basis.
  • The charges and the legal provisions alleged to be violated: The NTA must specify this information so that each alleged charge matches the provision of the law alleged to be violated. If this information is absent, confusing or contradictory, you may challenge the NTA on that basis.
  • Conduct alleged to be in violation of Law: Does the NTA specify the conduct that allegedly violates the law? If this is not specified you may also challenge the NTA on that ground.
  • NTA must charge the non citizen under the right legal posture: This means the person must be properly charged as deportable or inadmissible. Each has different legal implications relating to the burden of proof and relief that may be available. If you have been charged using the wrong legal posture, you may challenge the NTA on that basis.
  • NTA not issued by authorized officer: If proceedings are initiated with an NTA issued by an officer not duly authorized to issue an NTA, you may also challenge an NTA on that ground.

There are other grounds and reasons upon which one may mount a valid challenge upon the NTA but each case is different and one should make a decision after considering the totality of the facts of a particular case. In some situations, there may be other strategic reasons not to mount a challenge. In conclusion, one should always examine the NTA thoroughly to determine if there is a basis to challenge, and if so whether such a challenge should be made.