Removal proceedings are initiated by the government against a foreign national to determine whether the foreign national should be removed from the United States (the process was previously called "deportation"). A foreign national may be removed if he or she falls within one of the enumerated grounds of inadmissibility or deportability outlined in the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA"). The grounds of inadmissibility are found in INA § 212(a), and outline why an individual (1) can be refused admission to the U.S., or (2) can be removed if they entered the United States without first bring inspected and admitted by an immigration officer. The grounds of deportability are found in INA § 237(a), and apply to individuals who are in the United States after bring inspected and admitted by an immigration officer. A Lawful Permanent Resident ("LPR") may lose his or her resident status, and be removed from the United States if they are found to have violated certain immigration laws.
An individual placed into removal proceedings is referred to as the "respondent."
Commencement of Removal Proceedings
Removal Proceedings are initiated with the issuance of a charging document referred to as a Notice to Appear ("NTA"). The NTA must specify the following:
- The nature of the proceedings against the individual;
- The legal authority under which the proceedings are conducted;
- The acts or conduct alleged to be in violation of law;
- The charges against the individual and the statutory provisions alleged to have been violated;
- The person's right to representation, including time to secure counsel, and a list of available pro bono counsel;
- The requirement that the individual provide his or her address and telephone number, and then keep the court appraised of any changes in one's contact information; and
- The time and place of the hearing and the consequences of failing to appear, including the entry of a removal order in absentia. INA § 239(a); 8 CFR §§ 1003.15(b), (c).
The NTA must be served on the respondent in person.