Effective October 1, 2018, USCIS will begin gradually implementing the June 28, 2018 Notice to Appear (NTA) Policy Memorandum. USCIS issued an alert clarifying that this will not be applied to employment-based petitions, and humanitarian applications and petitions. In addition, USCIS held a teleconference earlier today emphasizing the same point.
A Notice to Appear (NTA) is a document that instructs an individual to appear before an immigration judge. This is the first step in starting removal proceedings.
USCIS’ updated guidance on June 28, 2018 clarified the role of USCIS officers involving the issuance of a NTA. Specifically, it prioritized the initiation of removal proceedings against individuals who are subject to a final order of removal but have not departed, or those individuals involved with any criminal activity, fraud or willful misrepresentation, the abuse of public benefits, or any threat to national security or public safety.
USCIS issued an alert clarifying that the issuance of a NTA will not be applied to employment-based petitions, and humanitarian applications and petitions. However, it will be applied to Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and to Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. This means that individuals whose Form I-485 or I-539 is denied, and who do not have valid underlying nonimmigrant status, may receive a NTA from USCIS. The NTA will require the individual to present themselves in front of an immigration judge on a set date.
During a teleconference on this topic earlier today, USCIS clarified that the NTA may be issued simultaneously with the decision, at a later date, or not at all. In the event that USCIS does not issue the NTA, the case could be referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which also has a mechanism for issuing NTAs.
Individuals with a pending I-485 should monitor their cases closely and consider maintaining their underlying nonimmigrant status. In the event that there is a denial, they should contact their respective attorney immediately to determine next steps.
For further details regarding this or any other immigration matter, please be sure to contact a member of our team at PwC Law LLP.