A Notice To Appear (NTA) is a formal notice to someone that they are being placed in deportation proceedings. While receiving one normally can be quite intimidating, a recent, quietly enacted change in guidance regarding how NTAs are used can make them even more alarming, even to immigrants with documentation who entered the United States legally.
NTAs Sent Immediately
Under previous administrations, if a person was lawfully present in the United States on a valid visa, such as a student visa (F1) or foreign worker’s visa (H1B), and they wound up going out of status while in the process of renewing their visa or making plans to depart, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) would generally not bother to issue an NTA, even though technically these people were unlawfully present in the U.S. Unless evidence of fraudulent or otherwise criminal activity existed, most of those seeking to reapply were simply treated as though the grant of a new visa would occur.
Now, under the new rule, a reapplication is treated very seriously, and if the benefit or extension is denied, the person will immediately be issued an NTA if they are determined to fall out of status for as little as one day. This is especially noteworthy, because current immigration law permits certain visa holders, such as H1Bs, to continue their employment and, generally, live a normal life for up to 240 days (approximately eight months) while their renewal application is pending. In many cases, the processing time for such extensions can be as much as one year or more, depending on demand and USCIS backlog. Thus, many are left with no choice but to uproot their lives with little notice....