A removal proceeding is a legal process initiated by the U.S government against a foreign national in the United States suspected of having violated U.S immigration law. The process begins when the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) serves a document called a “Notice to Appear” (NTA) to the foreign national and then files it with the immigration court. The NTA informs the accused to appear before an immigration judge and includes a description of the nature of the proceedings; the charges filed against the accused; the legal authority under which the proceedings are being brought; and the consequences of failing to appear at the scheduled hearings. Foreign nationals in removal proceedings have a right to legal representation at their own expense.
The central question considered by an immigration court in any removal proceeding is whether the foreign national charged is inadmissible to the United States. Under U.S immigration law, a person may be found inadmissibility on a number of grounds including criminal grounds, security-related grounds, and health-related grounds. U.S law provides several forms of relief (waivers of inadmissibility) to persons found inadmissible provided they meet specific criteria. Those persons, however, ineligible for a waiver will be ordered removed from the United States.
An order of removal by an immigration court can entail very serious consequences. Depending on the circumstances, a foreign national order removed may be barred from re-entering the United States for 5, 10 or 20 years. If it finds the accused committed an aggravated felony, an immigration court will issue a removal order permanently barring the foreign national from ever entering the United States again.
Indeed, removal becomes a frightening prospect for any foreign national who has invested considerable time and energy working in the United States and whose lawful status has now lapsed or is no longer valid. To make matters worse, a USCIS policy memorandum issued on June 28, 2018 considerably widens the discretion of USCIS officials to issue NTAs directly. Previously, foreign nationals in the United States whose visa petition or application had been denied could depart the U.S. relatively quickly and either remain abroad or obtain approval for another visa enabling him or her to return to the U.S. However, now that USCIS has affirmed its authority to issue NTAs directly (as opposed to referring immigration matters involving inadmissibility charges to its police counterpart, ICE), foreign nationals denied an extension of their work visas may find themselves summarily receiving a NTA. Once a foreign national is issued a NTA, he or she is required under U.S law to appear before an immigration court.
A person issued an NTA faces an extremely difficult dilemma. If he fails to appear in immigration court in compliance with the NTA, the court will issue a removal order against him, barring him from re-entering the United States for 5 years. On the other hand, if he remains in the U.S, challenges the removal charges (a potentially lengthy process), and then fails to prevail on his case, he risks accruing years of “unlawful presence” in the U.S that would prohibit him from re-entering the United States for another 10 years. Considering the possibility of such a dire outcome, it’s essential anyone issued a NTA seek legal assistance from a qualified and experienced immigration attorney immediately.
Contact a Skilled Business Immigration Lawyer for More Information*
Gold Law Group assists clients with a wide variety of business-related immigration matters including removal proceedings. If you are a foreign national and have received a Notice to Appear; or if you are a foreign national currently in removal proceedings, please call 323.394.1281 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.
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