Removal proceedings commence when the Department of Homeland Security files a Notice to Appear (“NTA”) with the Immigration Court. At that point, the foreign national will be instructed they have to appear in court on the charges contained in the NTA.
Removal proceedings can best be viewed as having two stages. The first is the removability stage. This is when the judge makes the determination of whether the foreign national is removable as charged in the NTA. Immigration lawyers too often concede removability in immigration court. There are often ways to successfully challenge whether a person is subject to removal. It may be that the criminal conviction does not trigger a ground of removability or that the charge is factually or legally incorrect. DHS bears the burden of proof on this issue. It is important to speak with an experienced lawyer who can determine whether a challenge should be made to removability.
If a foreign national is found to be subject to removal, the next stage of the case is relief. If there is any relief available, the foreign national will file the appropriate relief application with the Immigration Court and the case will be scheduled for a hearing.
The following are common relief applications that can be filed with the Immigration Court:
- Asylum, withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT)
- Cancellation of removal for LPRs or non-LPRs
- VAWA cancellation of removal
- Adjustment of status
- Waivers including for fraud (INA §212(i)), criminal inadmissibility (INA § 212(h)), INA §237(a)(1)(H) waivers
- Voluntary departure
Each application has specific requirements and must be supported by documentation. A hearing will be held on the application and the applicant and other witnesses will be permitted to testify. The Immigration Judge will then issue a decision in the case.
Mr. Bratton has represented individuals in removal cases in immigration courts throughout the United States for almost 20 years. He has successfully contested removal charges resulting in the termination of removal proceedings. He has also successfully represented foreign nationals in applying for all types of relief applications.