Agusto Niz-Chavez, a citizen of Guatemala, arrived in the United States unlawfully in 2005. In 2013, he received a Notice to Appear (“NTA”). An NTA is a document an immigrant may receive placing him or her in Removal Proceedings. The NTA instructs the intending immigrant to appear before an Immigration Judge at a certain place, date and time. When one receives this document, it commences removal proceedings. However, in Niz-Chavez’s NTA, no time or place for the hearing was specified. Later, he received a new hearing notice denoting the time and place. One of the applications he sought for relief before the Immigration Court was Cancellation of Removal since his initial NTA was missing key information. An individual is eligible for this relief if they have been “physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than 10 years immediately preceding the date of such application.” This accrual of continuous presence stops when the individual is issued the NTA. This is otherwise known as the stop-time rule. An immigration judge denied Niz-Chavez’s application, and now the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear and adjudicate his case.
What is at stake in the case of Niz-Chavez v. Barr is whether the government has to specify the place and time of deportation hearings in a NTA to trigger the stop-time rule, or if the government can trigger the rule by giving the information in several documents (as in the Niz-Chavez case). It is important to note that a similar question has already been decided by the Supreme Court in Pereira v. Sessions, where they ruled that an NTA without a specific time and location for a hearing does not trigger the stop-time rule. The Supreme Court has decided to rehear almost that same case in Niz-Chavez v. Barr. There is agreement that only an NTA with a time and location triggers the stop-time rule, but the question now is whether the government can specify the time and location in multiple documents or if they have to do only in the NTA.
To have a precise ruling on this clarification is vital for a threefold reason: 1) For standardization purposes so that all courts will be aligned in their decision making, reducing interpretive disparities; 2) To achieve unambiguous consistency in determining when an immigrant’s accrual of continuous presence to qualify for eligibility of Cancellation of Removal stops; and 3) To see if the Supreme Court will invalidate incorrect NTA’s which could allow individuals to reopen their previous removal orders.
Understanding NTA’s may be confusing, and given the linguistic ambiguity in the previous decisions set forth by the Supreme Court, even Judges are having difficulties applying a standardized interpretation. The Shulman Law Group is here to assist you in interpreting your NTA’s and finding legal grounds, as applicable, to challenge their validity. Should you have any immigration concerns regarding an NTA, do not hesitate to call us to schedule a consultation.