Whether you have legal permanent residence, a nonimmigrant visa status or no immigration status whatsoever, receiving mail from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may make you feel uneasy. After all, in addition to sending approval notices, the DHS often contacts individuals when there is some immigration-related issue to resolve.
If you receive a notice to appear in the mail or by hand delivery from an immigration official, you may be at risk of removal from the U.S.
A charging document
An NTA is a charging document. That is, if your name appears on a notice to appear, the DHS has initiated your deportation, and you must appear in immigration court at the scheduled time. Generally, immigration officials give individuals at least 10 days to prepare for the court hearing, although, under certain circumstances, you may elect to waive the 10-day period and appear earlier.
A list of allegations
In addition to including your name and registration number, your NTA should have a list of allegations. These allegations tell you why immigration officials believe you should not remain in the country. It is critical to check all information on the NTA for accuracy. If there is a mistake, it may be prudent to alert DHS officials or inform the immigration judge.
A defense strategy
It is critical not to ignore your NTA, as an immigration judge may order your removal in your absence. Rather than disregarding the notice, you may want to use it to form your defense strategy. Remember, the NTA outlines the DHS’s case in broad terms.
Ultimately, because you may have a few options for defending yourself and remaining in the U.S., it is advisable to seek legal counsel as quickly as possible after receiving your NTA.