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CIS finally issues "guidance" on when officers will issue NTAs for criminal cases
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Posted On: November 10, 2011

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a new policy today to guide officers in knowing when to issue notices to appear (NTA). An NTA is the charging document that’s filed with the immigration court to place in immigrant into removal proceedings. Once an NTA is issued an accepted by the court, CIS no longer has jurisdiction and the immigrant is faced with dealing with an immigration judge and ice trial counsel who’s trying to get the deported. By law in under the statute, NTA’s have to be issued in certain circumstances. But there are many types is cases where NTA’s are not automatic and this is where this memo is most illustrative. CIS will forward certain types of immigrants who have criminal backgrounds to ice for ice to determine if ice wants to issue an NTA. These include cases egregious public safety cases involving murder, rape, or section abuse of a minor, trafficking and firearms, or fences involving firearms, crimes of violence, ransom, slavery, child pornography, alien smuggling, suspected street gang members or Interpol hits. This list will also affects immigrants who have felonies and have illegally reentered the United States after receiving a removal order. Non egregious public safety criminal cases will also be referred to ice, even if someone is applying for citizenship and is our rate permanent resident. In these cases, it CIS will not issue an NTA itself if ice decides to not issue an NTA. One of the more troubling aspects of this memo is that CIS will refer all cases to ice in which an immigration benefits application has been denied because the person failed to register with NSEERS. This was a failed program that Ast all male immigrants of a certain age from countries identified as harboring terrorists to voluntarily register their whereabouts in the United States following the 911 attacks. Didn make much sense of the times since terrace would be unlikely to register their whereabouts and so it targeted and racially profiled against many people who are innocent of any wrongdoing. Another problem within NSEERS was that many people did not know about it and the program ended many years ago when they are applying for relief now, are denied for failure to comply with an old program that they can do anything about now.

Attorney Heather L. Poole practices exclusively in the area of U.S. family-based immigration law and citizenship law. Heather is a nationally-published immigration author, frequent lecturer on immigration issues, and member & officer of the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s Southern California Chapter. For more information about Heather and the services offered, visit


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