You will never be in immigration court without a Notice to Appear or NTA for short being issued.
The Notice to Appear in Immigration Court deportation proceedings is like an indictment in criminal court. It will state why the government believes you are deportable or removeable and why you must be deported. It will list how you entered the U.S., what your status is and why you are inadmissible.
It is what is known as the charging document. This means in actuality that a division of Immigration will prepare it and serve it upon you. They will then get it filed in Immigration Court. Immigration Court will then send you notice of when your first Deportation Hearing will be and where the Immigration Court is located.
The NTA is issued for anyone who will begin and be placed in removal proceedings. It is the legal process which starts the deportation and whether or not the government can legally deport you.
The NTA is not issued to go to a civil court or criminal court, but only for removal proceedings in an immigration court.
Past Criminal History
Many times the reason an NTA is issued is because you have committed a crime and either are finishing your criminal sentence or were previously released and U.S. Immigration now has the information. On the NTA – Notice to Appear, it will specifically list the sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act which make one deportable.
For example, let’s say somebody committed some theft crime with a sentence of 8 months. This would most likely make them deportable under U.S. Immigration Law and they would then be issued a Notice to Appear. Keep in mind that the NTA does not by itself mean that you will automatically be deported. That is the very reason for the immigration court in the first place. It is to try to fight the deportation and to determine if you have any relief available to you. Such relief might be cancellation of removal, asylum, adjustment of status, registry, waivers and so on.
Burden of Proof is on U.S. Immigration
Many times U.S. Immigration will try to shift the burden in removal proceedings. They will try to get you to admit to the crime committed. This is not proper (which is why you should have a deportation attorney representing you in Immigration Court). The charging document will list the crimes. However, it is their burden to provide evidence you actually committed those crimes and were convicted of those crimes. Even if the Immigration Judge in Court asks you whether you ‘committed’ those crimes, it should not be answered as the Immigration Judge does not have the power to shift the legal burden of what must be proven. If U.S. Immigration cannot properly show you have committed those crimes, then the case could be terminated by the Immigration Judge and you may not be deported.
Notice of Deportation Proceedings is Key to Due Process
You must have proper notice of your hearing. Otherwise, you could get an order for deportation in absentia and be physically deported from the U.S. without ever seeing the Notice to Appear and without ever having your ‘day in Court’. Thus, if you do find this happened, you should contact a deportation lawyer right away to see if a Motion to Reopen can be done.