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Abstract

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA or “the Act”) is the primary governing body of law on immigration in the United States. The INA establishes the procedures for removing noncitizens from the country.

To initiate removal proceedings, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) serves a Notice to Appear (NTA) on a noncitizen deemed to be removable. The INA specifies information to be contained in the NTA, including the hearing date and location. A form of relief from removal that noncitizens may apply for is cancellation of removal, which is contingent on factors such as continuous residence in the United States for a certain period of time. Once the DHS serves a noncitizen with an NTA, however, the noncitizen’s continuous residence is suspended based on a provision in the INA called the “stop-time” rule.

Courts are split on whether the NTA must contain all information listed in the INA to trigger the stop-time rule. Most circuits, upon determining that the INA is ambiguous on this point and in deference to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), have held that the NTA need not contain the hearing date and location. The Third Circuit is the only circuit that has found the INA unambiguous, holding that the INA plainly requires the NTA to contain all information to trigger the stop-time rule.

This Comment first provides an overview of the INA, focusing on removal proceedings. This Comment then discusses the circuit split on whether an NTA lacking information listed in the INA triggers the stop-time rule. This Comment concludes that an NTA must contain all information specified in the INA, consistent with the plain meaning of the text, statutory context, and policy considerations.

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