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Understanding removal proceedings

Receiving a Notice to Appear (NTA) in front of an immigration judge can fill you and your family with dread. Though it means you are not involved in the expedited removal process, it is still the beginning of the traditional removal process. 

The prospect of removal, commonly called deportation, is a stressful experience for your family. For many immigrants, it is their greatest fear. However, the Notice to Appear is not the end of the road. Understanding the removal proceedings and your rights may help reduce your fear in the face of removal. It may also help you challenge the removal.

The NTA

The NTA should give you all of the information you need to know, including why the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began the removal proceeding in the first place. It will include the charge and allegations.

The charges for removal generally lead to two statuses:

  • Removable: This term applies to those that have a legal right to live in the United States. A violation of the law or failure to maintain immigrant status are some reasons the DHS might charge someone as removable.
  • Inadmissible: This term on the other hand applies to those seeking the legal right to be in the United States, usually with a green card or a visa. This status could result from many things, including errors with an application, overstaying the time a visa allowed, or ineligibility for legal residence.

The allegations listed will explain the reason for the status.

The NTA will also include information about:

  • The dates and times of hearings
  • A list of legal warnings
  • Consequences for not appearing
  • Your right to legal representation

Hearings

There can be various hearings involved in removal proceedings, depending on the situation. No matter what, you must attend the first hearing. At this hearing, often called the master hearing, you have the option to voluntarily leave the United States, or defend your right to remain.

If you choose to defend your case, there will likely be more hearings. You have the right to legal representation in all of these hearings. An experienced immigration attorney can help protect your rights in court and keep you aware of all of your options moving forward.

There are ways to stop removal

Simply because you receive a notice, does not mean you will be removed from the United States, or taken from your family. There are various ways to avoid removal depending on your immigration status, including:

Removal proceedings may be frightening for you and your family, and deportation seems to be happening frequently nowadays. However, it is important to remember that you have the right to challenge a charge for removal. 

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