On April 28, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in Niz-Chavez v. Garland that may have groundbreaking impact on many who are currently facing, or who have previously been involved in immigration court proceedings. Specifically, the decision changed how the immigration courts should view Notices to Appear (NTA) documents, which are the documents that place an individual in immigration court proceedings and outline the charges against them.

In its decision, the Supreme Court held that a Notice to Appear (NTA) must contain all required information in one document and cannot be spread over multiple documents in order to trigger the “stop-time rule” for the purposes of Cancellation of Removal. The specific requirements that the court is referring to are the requirements that the Notice to Appear contain the time and date of the immigration court hearing. Previously, the Department of Homeland Security was permitted to issue a Notice to Appear that did not contain the time or date of a hearing, and then later send a Hearing Notice with this information. The Department of Homeland Security alleged in the case that this was sufficient to meet the requirements held within the immigration regulations. The Supreme Court determined that this was not sufficient for the purpose of triggering the “stop-time rule” for Cancellation of Removal.

Cancellation of Removal is a form of relief only available to individuals in immigration court and requires that the individual: (1) has been physically present in the U.S. for at least 10 years prior to issuance of a Notice to Appear; (2) is a person of good moral character, (3) has not been convicted of certain offenses; and (4) can establish that their removal will result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to their U.S. Citizen, or Lawful Permanent Resident spouse, parent, or child under 21 years old. The “stop-time rule” essentially “stops the clock”. For example, if an individual entered the United States in 2010 and was issued a Notice to Appear in 2019, they would not be eligible for cancellation of removal as they had only been physically present for 9 years in the U.S. before their NTA was issued. Their clock stopped upon issuance of the NTA. However, in this case, the Supreme Court has held that the individual may be eligible for Cancellation of Removal, and the clock did not stop, if the single Notice to Appear document was defective. The government cannot cure the defective Notice to Appear by later filing a separate document.

This ruling means that individuals who were issued a Notice to Appear and placed in immigration court proceedings before they had accrued 10 years of physical presence, may still be eligible for Cancellation of Removal if the Notice to Appear was not issued properly. It is important to note that while this case has potential groundbreaking impact for many immigration cases across the country, the Supreme Court’s holding is limited to the “stop-time rule” for Cancellation of Removal. There may be language in the Court’s decision that suggests that this ruling may apply to all cases in which a Notice to Appear did not contain all required information. However, at this time we will need to wait and see how the Board of Immigration Appeals will respond. The lawyers at NPZ Law Group, P.C. remain vigilant and will provide updates regarding new avenues of relief for our clients in removal proceedings (and otherwise) as they become available.

To obtain more information regarding this case, or to schedule a consultation with any of the Immigration and Nationality Lawyers at the Nachman Phulwani Zimovcak (NPZ) Law Group, please feel free to call the Firm at 201-670-0006 (x104 or x109). Our main office is in Ridgewood, New Jersey. We also have an office located in Raritan, New Jersey, and New York City. NPZ also maintains affiliated offices in India and in Canada. For more information about our Firm’s immigration and natio