How Defects in the ‘Notice to Appear’ in Your Removal Case Could Be the Key to Success in Your Deportation Defense

If you are someone who is in the United States and is undocumented, you know that you may be at risk of “removal,” a/k/a deportation. You should also know that the law has several forms of relief from removal. Your case might make you eligible for “cancellation of removal,” or for “administrative closure,” allowing you to remain in the country. Obtaining these or other forms of relief requires an in-depth knowledge of immigration law and procedure, as the processes are often intricate and complex. That’s why you should retain an experienced Maryland immigration lawyer when you’re facing deportation.

An undocumented Honduran man named Jesús faced that potential reality. In 2014, his wife, who was a United States citizen, filed a Form I-130, known as a “Petition for Alien Relative,” which the federal government approved in November 2015. This is the procedure for obtaining a Green Card for a family member of a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.

If, as Jesús was, you’re already in the U.S. and facing deportation proceedings, then you may also need to pursue what the law calls “administrative closure.” This is a process, used by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and immigration judges, that effectively suspends your deportation proceeding indefinitely.

The BIA denied his request for closure, which led him to appeal further. Before the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals, Jesús’s legal team argued that he should be considered for “cancellation of removal,” which would essentially be a dismissal of the deportation action.

That appeal proved successful. The key to the immigrant’s success was a Supreme Court case from last spring regarding the “stop-time rule.”

Removal Actions, Notices to Appear, and the ‘Stop-Time’ Rule

The law regarding cancellation of removal establishes several criteria an immigrant must meet . One is that the immigrant must have lived in the U.S. continuously for at least 10 years. Once the immigrant receives a valid notice to appear, the “clock” for measuring that 10-year period stops.

What does not stop it, though, is an invalid notice of removal. In the Supreme Court case, the immigrant was a Guatemalan male who entered the U.S. without documentation and eventually received a notice to appear that lacked a date and time for the hearing. That information’s absence, the court said, made the notice invalid, meaning it did not stop the clock for purposes of the “stop-time rule.” The ruling said that, to be valid, a notice must include all of the essential information within a single notice document.

That ruling led the 4th Circuit to decide that Jesús’s case needed to be remanded to reassess whether the notice he received in his deportation case did (or did not) comply with the standards the Supreme Court announced last year, thereby giving him a renewed o.pportunity to avoid removal.

If you’re facing potential deportation, the consequences of an unfavorable outcome could cost you your job, your family, or more. If you or a loved one is facing possible deportation, don’t wait to take action. Get in touch right away with the knowledgeable Maryland deportation defense attorneys at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC. We have extensive experience helping undocumented immigrants remain with their families in the U.S., and we’re eager to get to work helping you. Contact us today at 301-519-2801 or via our online form today.

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