Removal proceedings are administrative proceedings to determine an individual’s removability under United States immigration law. Removal proceedings are typically conducted in Immigration Court (the Executive Office for Immigration Review) by an immigration judge. Persons in removal proceedings are called “respondents.” Cases are decided by immigration judges, who are appointed by the Attorney General and are part of the Department of Justice. Removal proceedings are prosecuted by attorneys from the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”), or more specifically, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Notice to Appear
Removal proceedings begin when an immigration attorney files a NTA with the immigration court. The respondent (typically an alien) is served with an administrative summons called a “Notice to Appear.” The Notice to Appear is a dated document served by a U.S. immigration official (typically U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Customs and Border Protection) to a person suspected of entering the United States without inspection, remaining in the United States beyond the terms permitted by a visa, committing certain crimes which result in removability even if in lawful status, or otherwise being present in the United States unlawfully.
Among other things, a Notice to Appear contains a numbered list of factual allegations against the respondent. For example, a typical Notice to Appear might state:
- You are not a citizen or resident of the United States
- You are a citizen and national of [respondent’s alleged home country]
- You were admitted to the United States on [month], [day] [year] as a B visitor for a period not to exceed 180 days.
- You remained in the United States beyond your term of admission.
These factual allegations may also list any crimes allegedly committed by the respondent in the United States, whether the respondent previously filed any applications with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services and their disposition, and if the respondent presently holds or previously held any lawful status. The Notice to Appear also contains a charge of removability, which is often a reference to which section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that DHS is attempting to use to remove the respondent. The Notice to Appear may or may not contain a court date for the respondent to appear and answer the charges contained therein. If no court date is listed, the respondent may be notified of the court date by mail or in person at a future date.
Failure to appear for a removal hearing will result in an absentia order of removal being entered by the Immigration Judge absent extenuating circumstances for the respondent’s failure to appear, such as a serious illness.
Defenses to Deportation:
Each possible defense to inadmissibility carries specific requirements that must be met or the applicant does not qualify. To determine whether you qualify for a defense to inadmissibility your case must be thoroughly reviewed. In addition to defenses, a waiver, permission to re-enter the United States may need to be filed in your case.
Any person that that is in the United States and not a U.S. Citizen may be subject to deportation if he or she:
- Is present in the U.S. in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act or any other U.S. law
- Violated nonimmigrant status or a condition of entry into the U.S.
- Terminated a conditional permanent residence.
- Encouraged or aided any other alien to enter the U.S. illegally.
- Engaged in marriage fraud to gain admission to the U.S.
- Was convicted of certain criminal offenses (see our criminal defense for the alien page)
- Failed to register or falsified documents relating to entry into the U.S.
- Engaged in any activity that endangers public safety or creates a risk of national security; or
- Engaged in unlawful voting.
If a person is deported as the result of any of the foregoing he or she is then inadmissible. The deported person may be eligible to file a waiver to return to the United States. It is very important that you contact us as soon as you receive an NTA or an immigration Hold is put on you. Whether or not you qualify for a waiver will be directly related to the removal proceedings.