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What is a Notice to Appear (NTA) and what does it mean for immigrants who receive one?

If you or a family member have been served with a Notice to Appear, it is a very serious matter.  NTA's are the document that is served on an alien to advise them that deportation proceedings have begun.

While some people are served the NTA and detained, there are thousands of people walking around the U.S. who have received and NTA and are "in proceedings."  The NTA usually has the initial court date.

The NTA also lists the allegations that the government believes require that you be removed (or deported) from the U.S.  These allegations typically track your immigration history and set forth the reason (or reasons) why removal is warranted.

The allegations typically say something like:

  • You are not a US citizen
  • You are a citizen of your home country
  • You entered the US on a particular date
  • Whether your entry was authorized or not and, if so, for how long
  • The reasons why you should be deported (criminal activity, overstay, etc.)
  • The specific statutory provisions that you are believed to have violated.

At a later date, you will be asked to admit or deny each of the allegations in the NTA.  Obviously, this document is very important and should be kept in a safe place.  Make sure to check that the biographical information about you in the NTA is correct.  You would not want future mail to go to the wrong address.

The NTA may be served upon you by hand or mailed to you or your attorney, if you have an attorney on record with ICE.  ICE also serves the NTA upon the immigration court responsible for your deportation proceedings.

The law requires that you be allowed at least ten days between the service of the NTA and your initial court hearing.  You can waive this 10 day rule if you like and you may want to do so if you are being kept in ICE custody.

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