If you have violated immigration law, you may be subject to deportation or removal proceedings. Deportation and removal can generally be used interchangeably to mean the legal process of expelling an immigrant from the U.S., most likely to his or her country of origin. Besides leaving your family, home, and community, deportation can have some other consequences under the law.
For illegal U.S. residents who were removed just once, there is a 3 year period that you are barred from re-entering the U.S. For long periods of undocumented U.S. residence or multiple removal offenses, the period of time that you are not admissible to immigrate to the U.S. can grow to up to 20 years. If you are in violation of immigration law, you may have some options before the initiation of deportation proceedings. If you are currently in removal proceedings, you do have options for avoiding deportation.
Immigrants may be detained (jailed) for violations of current immigration law. The minimum bail you will be facing if detained on an immigration hold is $1.500 although it could be more depending on any other criminal record. Being detained may also prompt removal proceedings. If you are living in an area participating in the Department of Homeland Security’s Secure Communities Program, immigrants with criminal histories may be deported.
If you are not yet in court proceedings for your removal with the Board of Immigration Appeals, you may have some particular options for avoiding deportation. Some applicants may be allowed to withdraw their application for permanent residence without the consequence of deportation. Not all applicants facing deportation are eligible for this option. The Attorney General decides which applications can be withdrawn on a case-by-case basis.
Applicants facing deportation may also have the option of voluntarily departing the U.S. While voluntary departure does result in you leaving the U.S., immigrants who voluntarily depart are not subject to the periods of waiting before they can re-enter the U.S. Contact the Department of Homeland Security for more information about voluntary departure and inquiries about your petition for voluntary departure.
If you are currently in formal removal proceedings with the Department of Justice Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and/or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, you may have the option of having your deportation cancelled. If you have been a long-term resident of the U.S. and can demonstrate, using the proper U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services waiver, that your deportation would cause your spouse or parents extreme hardship, your deportation may be cancelled. You may also need to file other waivers that support or assert your admissibility for residence in the U.S. In other words, waivers in the deportation process can be used to build a defense for why you should stay in the country and/or avoid deportation consequences. The waiver will cancel the consequences of illegal residence, making you admissible for re-entry to the U.S. and eligible to be granted a visa for legal residence.
The BIA court may also offer you the opportunity to apply for permanent residence (green card) during your removal proceedings. You should file a “Change of Status” form, following the filing instructions given to you by the BIA court processing your removal.
Applying for permanent residence and/or filing a hardship waiver does not suspend your removal proceedings. Your proceedings will continue throughout the application process but may be cancelled when/ if you are granted new documentation for legal residence.
Refugees, Asylees, and battered spouses and children can be subject to removal proceedings for being in violation of immigration law. However, you cannot be deported while your application for asylum is pending. Refugees and asylees will not be deported. However, if your asylum is cancelled or suspended at any time, your removal proceedings may resume.
For more information on removal proceedings and help with deportation defense, contact Immigration Attorney Phillip Kim.
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