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Policy Memorandum on Notices to Appear (NTAs)

Starting October 1, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will implement its June 28, 2018, policy memo that updated guidance on the issuance of Notices to Appear (NTAs).  This policy will be implemented based on the Executive Order 13768, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States issued on January 25, 2017, which set forth the administration’s enforcement priorities “against all removable aliens.”

Background

A Notice to Appear is the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Form, I-862, that is issued to a noncitizen whom the federal government believes to be removable from the United States. This document instructs them to appear before an immigration judge on a certain date and commences removal proceedings.

This policy now requires USCIS to issue NTAs; USCIS has historically served as the benefits adjudication arm of DHS since 2003 when it was first created.  Under the new guidance, USCIS will issue an NTA in cases where the applicant or beneficiary is deemed removable and where there is evidence of fraud, misrepresentation, or “abuse of public benefits programs.” In addition, NTAs will be issued for the certain cases involving criminal conduct, even without a conviction; naturalization cases which are denied for lack of moral character due to a criminal offense; and for cases where the applicant, beneficiary, or requestor is “not lawfully present” in the United States at the time an application, petition, or request has been denied.

On July 5, 2018, USCIS released a memorandum which significantly altered the DHS policy as to when USCIS, as opposed to ICE, will issue an NTA. This greatly expands the categories for individuals who will now be issued an NTA by USCIS, impacting students, families, professional workers, and many others who have fully complied with the law but whose applications or petitions are denied.