Deportation occurs when the federal government removes an alien from the United States to their country of citizenship or permanent residency. All immigrants, including those with green cards, can be deported if they violated U.S. immigration laws.

For instance, immigrants that have been convicted of a crime can be legally removed from the U.S., or immigrants trying to cross the U.S. border can be immediately returned to their country.

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What are Grounds for Deportation?

There are a number of ways an immigrant may be deported. Below is a non-exhaustive list of the most common reasons for deportation.

  • Failure to Obey the Terms of Your Visa: When you are allowed temporary residency in the United States with a visa, there are various conditions that you must uphold. Failing to comply with the conditions are grounds for deportation. For example, someone who is admitted to the U.S. as a tourist cannot work.
  • Failure to Advise USCIS of Change of Address: Immigration law requires the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must always have a valid address for all immigrants in the United States via a green card or visa. The immigrant has only ten days to notify USCIS of a change of address.
  • Commission of a Crime: Namely, an aggravated felony, domestic violence, or a crime of moral turpitude committed within five years after being admitted to the United States or getting a green card, or two crimes of moral turpitude that results from a single criminal event, can be grounds for deportation.
  • Committing Marriage Fraud: Sham marriages, or fake/fraudulent marriages with the intent to deceive immigration officials, are illegal.
  • Receiving Public Assistance: According to immigration law, “Any alien who, within five years after the date of entry, has become a public charge (i.e. relies on government assistance) from causes not affirmatively shown to have arisen since entry is deportable.”
  • Drug Abuse/Addiction: Immigrants who are drug abusers, addicts, or have been convicted of more than one drug-related offense, can be deported.

What is the Deportation Process?

There is a specific procedure for deportation. First, you will receive a Notice to Appear issued by U.S. Immigration, served to the alien and also filed with the immigration court. A hearing is scheduled. The immigrant is allowed to have an attorney represent him or her.

Once the alien finds an attorney, or elects to proceed without an attorney, the alien must verify the information provided in the Notice to Appear. The immigration judge makes a determination whether the alien can be deported.

An alien can apply for relief from deportation, which requires a separate hearing; if he or she does not apply for relief, or is ineligible for relief, the judge can order deportation. An alien has 30 days from the date deportation is ordered to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Is There Any Way for an Alien to Remain in the U.S. After Being Ordered to Be Removed?

Relief from removal occurs in limited circumstances. It permits a deportable alien to remain in the United States, only if temporarily, for any of the following reasons.

  • Asylum: May be granted in situations where an alien cannot return to their home country because of past persecution, fear of future persecution based on their race, religion, political views, or membership in a particular social group. The Attorney General may grant asylum to the United States permitting them to stay despite grounds existing for their deportation.
  • Adjustment of Status: A person who is in the United States for a long period of time, but is not a permanent resident, can apply for an adjustment of status, where their status can be converted from “non-immigrant” to “lawful permanent resident.” This is often difficult to achieve as there are a limited number of green cards granted each year.
  • Suspend Deportation: A deportable alien must fulfill the following criteria to suspend deportation including whether the alien is continuously and physically present in the U.S for at least seven years, the alien is of good moral character, religion, and the alien must show that if deported, this would cause extreme hardship on the alien or the family.

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Should I Seek Legal Counsel?

Deportation issues are complex and serious as they may result in you being prohibited from re-entering the United States for ten years or longer. Even if you are in the country legally, deportation issues are serious and therefore you should contact an immigration attorney.