Removal, formerly known as deportation, is a legal process that involves removing a non-U.S. citizen from the United States and transporting them back to their country of origin.

A non-U.S. citizen may be subject to removal for various reasons, such as failing to obey the terms of their visa, committing marriage or green card fraud, or for being convicted of a criminal offense. The most common reason for removal is usually due to a violation of an immigration law.

There are some cases, however, where the grounds for removal may 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.

In addition, 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 depending on the circumstances and could potentially face other consequences.

Thus, if you are a non-U.S. citizen who is in danger of being removed from the United States, then you may want to consult a local immigration lawyer for further advice. A lawyer can help to protect your rights as an immigrant and can determine whether any defenses, waivers, or exceptions may apply.

What are Grounds for Deportation?

An immigrant may be subject to removal or deportation for a number of reasons. Some of the most common grounds listed for deportation may include the following:

  • Abusing or developing an addiction to drugs: A non-U.S. citizen who abuses or 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-related offense.
  • 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 and in order to obtain a green card, may be subject to removal from the United States.
  • Failing to obey the terms of a visa: Non-U.S. residents must obey certain 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.

    • For instance, 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. unless they can show that they qualify for an exception or under one of the waiver conditions.
  • 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. Some crimes that may be grounds for removal if a non-U.S. citizen is convicted include:
    • Crimes of moral turpitude;
    • Aggravated felonies;
    • Domestic violence offenses;
    • Crimes that involve the trafficking of drugs, humans, or weapons; and/or
    • Crimes that involve sabotage, treason, sedition, or espionage against the United States.
  • 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 be removed from the United States.

Again, some of the grounds contained in the above list may be subject to waivers or exceptions under certain circumstances.

Thus, it may be in a non-U.S. resident’s best interest to consult a local immigration attorney for further advice on such matters. An immigration attorney will be able to determine whether an immigrant qualifies for any exceptions or waiver conditions. An attorney will also be able to assist them in petitioning for a cancellation of removal.

What is the Deportation Process?

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

Depending on the circumstances, the judge may reschedule this hearing for a later date or may schedule a separate hearing where the non-U.S. citizen will be allowed to present their claims for relief. A non-U.S. citizen may hire an immigration attorney to represent them during these proceedings.

After all of the scheduled hearings have ended, 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 to file an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals or BIA Board.

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

There are some instances where an immigrant may be able to obtain relief from removal and thus will be legally permitted to remain in the United States. Some circumstances that may constitute grounds to seek relief from removal include the following:

  • 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. For example, 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 not 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 long period 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 will involve 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, which will make them eligible to receive a green card. However, this process is not as simple as it sounds since there are only a limited number of green cards available per year.

      • Thus, whether a person will be approved or not will largely depend on which green card eligibility category they selected and where they stand in the figurative green card “waiting” line.
  • Asylum: A person may also be granted relief through asylum. This can happen in situations where an immigrant is unable or unwilling to return to their homeland because they have either been persecuted or have a fear of being persecuted due to their religion, political views, nationality, race, or membership in a particular social group. The person must also have been physically present in the U.S. for less than a year since the date of their arrival.

    • To find out more about these requirements, an individual should either contact an immigration attorney for further legal guidance or they can visit the USCIS website and check out the requirements for filing Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal.

Should I Seek Legal Counsel?

The removal process is an extremely complex area of U.S. immigration law. This is because the rules and requirements surrounding deportation are not always clear; especially, those rules that govern when a legal defense may be raised in a case. Issues concerning the violation of deportation regulations should also be taken very seriously. This is because such matters can result in being banned from entering the United States for at least ten years or longer.

Therefore, it is strongly encouraged that you hire a local immigration attorney immediately if you are in danger of being removed from the country and believe that you have a legally valid reason to remain in the United States. An experienced immigration attorney will be able to advise you of your rights under current U.S. immigration law. They can help you determine whether there are any defenses available that you might be able to raise against a case.

Your attorney can assist you in drafting and filing any necessary legal documents for your matter, including witness affidavits, motions to stay removal, and motions to reconsider deportation. Your attorney can also explain any laws or procedures that you do not understand and can discuss some of the potential consequences you may be facing.

In addition, if you are not a lawful permanent resident and need to apply for an adjustment of status or for a green card based on the rescission of a removal defense, then you should work with an immigration attorney. They can help ensure that this process goes smoothly and that your green card will be considered as valid and legally enforceable.