Office of International Programs

Notice of Intent to Appear

Updated USCIS policy guidance on the issue of Notice of Intent to Appear took effect on October 1, 2018.  This is important because it contains some changes that could severely impact foreign students and scholars, especially if they are found to be unlawfully present in the US.

What is a Notice of Intent to Appear?

A Notice to Appear (NTA) is a document given to an alien that instructs them to appear before an immigration judge on a certain date. The issuance of an NTA begins removal proceedings against the alien. Under the new guidance, USCIS officers will now issue an NTA for a wider range of cases where the individual is removable and there is evidence of fraud, criminal activity, or where an applicant is denied an immigration benefit and is unlawfully present in the United States.

What Kind of Violations might trigger a Notice to Appear?

The revised policy generally requires USCIS to issue an NTA in the following categories of cases in which the individual is removable:

  • Cases where fraud or misrepresentation is substantiated, and/or where an applicant abused any program related to the receipt of public benefits. USCIS will issue an NTA even if the case is denied for reasons other than fraud.

    • Students and scholars must be especially careful NOT to use PUBLIC BENEFITS.  To read the USCIS guidance on what types of services and program are considered public benefits click here.

  • Criminal cases where an applicant is convicted of or charged with a criminal offense, or has committed acts that are chargeable as a criminal offense, even if the criminal conduct was not the basis for the denial or the ground of removability.
  • Cases in which USCIS denies an Application for Naturalization, on good moral character grounds because of a criminal offense.

  • Cases in which, upon the denial of an application or petition, an applicant is unlawfully present in the United States.
    • This is issue is extremely important. For those who opt to seek reinstatement in the US or even potentially a change of status and accrues unlawful presence days upon denial of their application, it could lead to a notice of intent to appear and your depart from the US.