Removal, formerly known as deportation, is the legal process in which a non-U.S. citizen is removed from the United States and transported back to their country of origin.

Some of the most common grounds listed for deportation include:

  • Abusing or Developing an Addiction to Drugs: A non-U.S. citizen who abuses or who has become addicted to drugs may be removed from the United States. A nonpermanent resident may also be removed if they have been convicted of more than one drug crime;
  • Committing Green Card Fraud: A non-U.S. resident who commits fraud, or enters into a fraudulent marriage with the intent to deceive an immigration officer in order to obtain a green card, may be subject to removal;
  • Failing to Obey the Terms Of a Visa: Non-U.S. residents must obey specific requirements and conditions if they are temporarily living in the United States on a visa. Failing to comply with any of those requirements or conditions will be grounds for removal. An example of this would be how an immigrant who moves to a new residence in the United States must notify the USCIS within 10 days from when they officially changed their address;
  • Collecting Public Assistance: A non-U.S. resident who requires public assistance from the U.S. government, within five years from the date that they first arrived, can be removed from the U.S. However, they may show that they qualify for an exception, or under one of the waiver conditions;
  • Violating Immigration Laws: A non-U.S. citizen who violates immigration laws, such as lying about their immigration status or remaining in the country after their visa has been revoked, may face removal; and
  • Being Convicted of Certain Crimes: A non-U.S. citizen who has been convicted of certain crimes may be subject to removal from the United States. Examples include:
    • Crimes of moral turpitude;
    • Aggravated felonies;
    • Domestic violence offenses;
    • Crimes that involve the trafficking of drugs, humans, and/or weapons; and/or
    • Crimes that involve sabotage, treason, sedition, and/or espionage against the United States.

However, the grounds for removal may often be improper or incorrect. Such matters will require a non-U.S. citizen to prove why they have a legally valid reason to remain in the United States. There are also some situations in which a non-U.S. citizen who is at risk of being removed from the United States may qualify for an exception or a waiver of removal. This will be further discussed later on.

It is important to note that if a non-U.S. citizen is removed from the United States, they may not be able to return for a period of 10 years or longer. They could potentially face other consequences as well. As such, if you are a non-U.S. citizen who is in danger of being removed from the United States, you should immediately consult with a local immigration lawyer for further advice. They can help protect your rights as an immigrant, and can determine whether any defenses, waivers, or exceptions may apply.

What Is The Removal Process?

The process for removal is very similar to that of many court cases. In general, the removal process begins by receiving a Notice to Appear letter from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) agency. It is imperative to note that this notice must also be filed with a local immigration court. A hearing will then be scheduled to appear before an immigration judge.

The judge may reschedule this hearing for a later date given the circumstances, or they may schedule a separate hearing in which the non-U.S. citizen will be allowed to present their claims for relief. Additionally, a non-U.S. citizen may hire an immigration attorney to represent them during these proceedings.

After all of the scheduled hearings have concluded, the judge will issue a decision on whether the non-U.S. citizen should be removed. If the immigration judge does approve the order for removal, the non-U.S. citizen will have 30 days from when the immigration court issued its final decision in which to file an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals, or BIA Board.

Can Removal Be Suspended For Extreme Hardship?

A person may make a motion to suspend, or put aside, their removal on the grounds of extreme hardship; or, “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship.” Once the motion is made, the Attorney General will stop their deportation process and allow for the application for permanent residency within the United States pursuant to 8 USCA § 1754(a).

Generally speaking, these motions are can be brought up in any of the following instances:

  • Removal hearings;
  • After a removal order has been issued; or
  • During an administrative or judicial proceeding under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

In order to qualify to suspend removal for extreme hardship, an immigrant applicant must:

  • Have been living inside the United States for 7 to 10 years;
  • Be in “good moral character;” and
  • Have some circumstance that leads to extreme hardship.

Defining what circumstances lead to extreme hardship is considerably difficult to do. However, some past examples include:

  • Separation with family that will remain in the United States;
  • Emotional hardship associated with the deportation;
  • Being unable to obtain a visa to re-enter the United States at a future date; or
  • Terminating the ability to provide financial support for a family that will remain in the United States.

Examples of when removal cannot be suspended include:

  • Economic impacts associated with the deportation;
  • Difficulty in readjusting to a native country;
  • Leaving a child with United States’ citizenship behind;
  • No family ties will exist in the United States; and
  • When a child will not be able to get adequate education in their native country.

Some circumstances that may constitute grounds to seek relief from removal include:

  • Cancellation of Removal: Cancellation of removal, formerly known as “suspension of deportation,” is a type of relief that can be sought by both lawful permanent residents and nonpermanent residents when they meet certain requirements. An example of this would be how a nonpermanent resident may be able to receive a cancellation of removal remedy if they can prove that they:
    • Have been present in the United States for a continuous period of no less than 10 years;
    • Exhibited good moral character during that time frame;
    • Have not been convicted of the specific offenses listed under the relevant statute; and
    • Can establish that removal would cause unusual or exceptional hardship to a family member who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States, or is a U.S. citizen, and is either the person’s parent, child, or spouse.
  • Adjustment of Status: A person who has lived and worked in the United State for a considerable amount of time, but is not yet considered to be a lawful permanent resident, may be able to submit an application for an adjustment of status. This involves completing a number of requirements, including filling out and filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with the USCIS.
    • If approved, this will convert an immigrant’s status from a non-U.S. resident to a lawful permanent resident. This will make them eligible to receive a green card. However, there are only a limited number of green cards available per year. As such, whether a person will be approved will largely depend on which green card eligibility category they selected, as well as where they stand in the figurative green card “waiting” line.
  • Asylum: A person may also be granted relief through asylum, such as when an immigrant cannot return to their homeland due to being persecuted or have a fear of being persecuted because of their religion, political views, nationality, race, or membership in a particular social group. They must also have been physically present in the U.S. for less than one year since the date of their arrival.

Do I Need A Lawyer For Help Suspending Removal Or Deportation For Extreme Hardship?

If your removal will cause you extreme hardship, you should contact an immigration attorney immediately. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options, and will also be able to represent you in court as needed throughout the immigration process.