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Niz-Chavez v. Garland and the “Stop-Time” Rule

On April 29, 2021, the Supreme Court, in a decision in Niz-Chavez v. Garland, 141 S. Ct. 1474 (2021), clarified whether a respondent can be served with “proper notice” to initiate removal proceedings when the necessary statutory information is not contained in a single document, but spread across multiple notices.

Under federal immigration law, non-lawful permanent residents who are in removal proceedings may be eligible for relief under “cancellation of removal” if they can establish, among other things, that they have been continuously present in the country for at least ten years. See 8 USC 1229b(b)(1). However, the “stop-time” rule provides that the period of continuous presence shall be deemed to end when the individual is served a “notice to appear” (NTA) in an immigration proceeding. An NTA is defined as “written notice… specifying” certain information, such as the charges against the non-citizen and the time and place at which the removal proceedings will be held. See 8 USC 1229(a)(1). A notice omitting any of this statutorily required information does not trigger the stop-time rule. See Pereira v. Session, 138 S. Ct. 2105 (2018).

Niz-Chavez v. Garland held that for a “notice to appear” to be sufficient to trigger the stop-time rule for a non-lawful permanent resident’s eligibility for cancellation of removal, the written notice must consist of a single document containing all of the statutorily required information. The Court cited Congress’ decision to use the indefinite article “a”[1] as an indication that Congress intended that proper notice requires a single notice provided at a discrete time rather than a series of notices that collectively provide the required information.

Niz-Chavez v. Garland:

[1] The stop-time rule is triggered by serving “a notice” and 8 USC 1229(a)(1) states that “written notice” is referred to as a “notice to appear”.

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