NewsFlash! USCIS to Place Far More Foreign Nationals in Removal Proceeding, Per New Memo

Thursday evening, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a policy memo that appears to greatly expand the situations in which a foreign national is to be issued a notice to appear (NTA). An NTA is a charging document that initiates removal (i.e. deportation) proceedings against an individual.

A press release summarizing the memo explains that now the USCIS generally is required to issue an NTA to a person who is removable in the following circumstances:

  • Cases in which fraud or misrepresentation is substantiated, and/or where an applicant abused any program related to the receipt of public benefits. The USCIS will issue an NTA even if the case is denied for reasons other than fraud.
  • Criminal cases in which an applicant is convicted of or charged with a criminal offense, or has committed acts that are chargeable as a criminal offense, even if the criminal conduct was not the basis for the denial or the ground of removability. The USCIS may refer cases involving serious criminal activity to ICE before adjudication of an immigration benefit request pending before the USCIS without issuing an NTA.
  • Cases in which the USCIS denies a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, on good moral character grounds because of a criminal offense.
  • Cases in which, upon the denial of an application or petition, an applicant is unlawfully present in the United States.

The last bullet point, indicating that an NTA will be issued if a foreign national falls into a period of unlawful presence “… upon the denial of an application or petition” is especially troubling. This seems to indicate that anyone who has an extension or change of status denied after that individual’s I-94 expires will be issued an NTA.

A foreign national who is issued an NTA generally has the right to fight the case in court. But, there can be serious immigration consequences for those who fail to get the NTA overturned, or who simply decide to depart the United States upon receiving an NTA.

The Murthy Law Firm is still in the process of evaluating this troubling policy shift. More details will be posted in the near future. Subscribe to the MurthyBulletin to receive future updates delivered to your inbox.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.