The deportation process begins when you are served with a Notice To Appear. You can be served with a Notice to Appear through mail or being served personally, though the latter usually only happens if you have been subject to an immigration arrest by Immigration & Customs Enforcement or local law enforcement. A Notice to Appear is the first formal document that tells you that you are being placed in deportation proceedings.
A Notice to Appear states your name and orders you to appear before an Immigration Judge in a certain place on a certain date. Rarely, no date or time will be listed; if this is the case, you will receive a separate Notice of Hearing. The document usually contains four things you should remember. They are:
- A list of your rights, including written proof of your right to an attorney – though you are responsible for finding and paying one;
- Why you must appear;
- How ICE alleges that you broke the law; and
- What will happen if you do not appear (most often, you will be declared removable in absentia, or while not present, and any ICE agent may arrest and deport you).
At least ten days are required to pass, by law, between the receipt of an Notice to Appear and the first hearing. This is to give you time to find an attorney and prepare for the hearing where you have the opportunity to present what defenses to removal you may qualify for.
Learn about the next step: Master Calendar Hearing.