Receive a Notice to Appear? Here’s What to Do

If you’ve received a Form I-862, otherwise known as a Notice to Appear (NTA), you need to act immediately. This form, which is issued by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is the first step in a process that could end in your removal from the US. 

What Information Does an NTA Contain?

The NTA directs you to appear for an immigration hearing at a specific time, date, and place. It also supplies the following information:

  • Your status in the US (e.g., legally admitted but no longer authorized to remain).
  • The reasons why the notice was issued. This could include lack of a valid visa, overstaying your visa, or criminal convictions against you. 
  • The charges against you that warrant removability.
  • The immigration laws that are the basis of these charges.

The first thing you should do after being served with the NTA is contact an immigration attorney. Although being the recipient of an NTA is frightening, resist the urge to ignore it or hide. Removal is not a guarantee at this point, and your attorney can help you present a compelling argument as to why you should be allowed to remain, whereas if you fail to show up for the hearing, your removal will be ordered.

What Happens After You Receive the NTA?

In the majority of removal cases, the first step after the NTA is a Master Calendar hearing, where a judge decides how the case will proceed. Although you will not be removed at this hearing, you could potentially be detained (although this rarely happens); but is another reason why legal representation is so essential. 

At the Master Calendar hearing, you and your attorney will have the opportunity to either admit to the charges of removability or deny them. If you choose to concede them, you can still request relief from removal, such as adjustment of status, asylum, or cancellation of removal. If you deny the charges, the court may order a Contested Merits Hearing, where you can present the legal grounds for terminating the removal proceedings and letting you stay in the US. 

Should the immigration judge disagree with your position at this second hearing, you will have to prepare a defense from deportation and apply for any relief you may qualify for. Your immigration attorney will advise you on which defenses apply to your specific circumstances.

Contact an Experienced Immigration Attorney

If you have received a Notice to Appear and are wondering about your options, contact Sánchez-Roig Law Firm, P.A. immediately. We are strong legal advocates for our clients and have presented strong and persuasive deportation defenses in federal courts and administrative agencies. We will listen to your story, identify possible grounds for terminating the removal proceedings, and work tirelessly to keep you here in the US with your friends and family. For more information or to schedule a confidential consultation with one of our experienced immigration attorneys, call 305-373-5385 today.