The Deportation Process

"Deportation" is the forcible ejection of a person from the United States (or any country), usually because they are in the country illegally. Although illegal entry into the United States is the most common reason for deportation, a person can be deported even if they are in the U.S. legally. For example, if a legal immigrant is convicted of a serious crime, they can lose their immigrant status, and therefore be deported.

LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor, , Attorney at Law

Since its creation in 2003, the Department of Homeland Security has had the responsibility of overseeing deportation (also known as "removal") hearings. The deportation process is quasi-criminal in nature, since the government is alleging that the defendant has broken a law, and is asking a court to rectify the situation. However, unlike criminal courts, immigration courts generally don't have the power to punish the defendant by putting them in jail. The most severe measure they can usually impose is deportation. Read more


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Department of Homeland Security Deportation Steps

When the Department of Homeland Security decides that it wants to seek deportation of an alleged illegal immigrant, it has to serve the defendant with a document which informs them of a few things, such as the specific immigration law they're accused of breaking, the date and location of the hearing, your right to have an immigration attorney present, and the consequences of failing to appear at the hearing, among other things.

In order to be deported, an immigration judge at a removal (deportation) hearing must make two findings. First, he or she must find that the alien has broken an immigration law and is therefore deportable. The judge must then determine if any relief from removal is available.

"Relief from removal" is any set of circumstances that provide a legal basis for allowing an otherwise deportable alien to remain in the United States, at least temporarily. There are several circumstances that might provide relief from removal.

Asylum: If an alien cannot return to his or her home country because of past persecution, or a well-founded fear of future persecution, based on race, religion, political views, or membership in a particular social group, the Attorney General may, at his discretion, grant the alien refugee status, allowing them to stay in the United States. However, if the alien did not apply for asylum within one year of arriving in the U.S., has been convicted of a serious felony, or has participated in persecution similar to what he or she is fleeing, he or she will not be eligible for asylum.

Voluntary Departure: If a person is deported from the United States, they typically cannot seek lawful re-entry into the U.S. for 10 years. However, in some cases, if a person is about to be deported, the deportation, and the long-term effects that it has, will be suspended for a short period of time, allowing the alien to leave the country of their own accord. Typically, the alien is given 60 days to leave the United States, and they will be able to apply for entry via legal channels in a short period of time.

Adjustment of Status: If a person is in the U.S. on a long-term, but not permanent, visa and they are about to be deported, they can apply for an adjustment of status, where their status can be converted from "non-immigrant" to "lawful permanent resident." However, this one is a fairly long shot, since a limited number of "green cards" are available each year.

These are just a few examples of some of the forms of relief from removal available to deportable aliens.

However, all of them are something of a long shot, and are far from guaranteed to be successful. You can, however, maximize your chances of being able to stay in the United States legally if you seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney.

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