The Deportation Process for US Immigrants

By Katherine at Legal Language
Posted on 11/12/2010
In Immigration, Maintaining Status

deportation processThe word “deportation” is used quite casually in regards to US immigration, but the deportation process is more complicated than simply sending someone away.

If an immigrant — whether in the US legally or illegally — is served with a deportation notice, things can get confusing fast. Knowing more about the deportation process can clear up misconceptions and help immigrants in removal proceedings consider their options.

Deportation Process: The Beginning

The deportation process, more formally called “removal proceedings,” begins with the arrival of a letter from the Department of Homeland Security. The letter is called a Notice to Appear. The Notice to Appear should contain the following information:

  • The immigrant’s name
  • The immigrant’s home country
  • A date to appear before an immigration judge
  • Why the immigrant has been ordered to appear before an immigration judge
  • If and how the immigrant broke the law
  • The immigrant’s right to an attorney (who must be paid for by the immigrant)
  • The consequences of failing to appear at the hearing

The Removal Hearing and Relief from Removal

The next step in the deportation process is attending the removal hearing on the date specified in the Notice to Appear.

At the removal hearing, the immigration judge determines whether the immigrant is eligible to be removed from the US, and if the immigrant is eligible for relief from removal.

If the immigrant is in any way eligible for relief from removal, he or she is allowed to apply to extend his or her stay in the US. If the immigrant is not eligible, the departure date from the US is set.

Deportation Process: Types of Relief

There are several types of relief from removal, with three being the most common. An immigration lawyer — the best resource to have at a removal hearing — can help the immigrant choose the type of removal relief he or she may be eligible for.

The three most common types of relief are:

1) Adjustment of Status

Adjustment of status occurs when an immigrant files for lawful permanent residency. To be able to do this, the immigrant in question must not be admissible under the Immigration and Nationality Act and must immediately qualify for an immigrant visa, often through a family member or employer.

Immigrants in the deportation process are not eligible for an adjustment of status if:

  • They entered the US illegally
  • They committed certain visa violations, such as overstaying the expiration date
  • They failed to appear at the initial removal hearing

2) Asylum

Asylum is granted to immigrants who cannot return to their home country because of past persecution or a great threat of persecution in the future based on race, nationality, religion or political opinion.

Immigration officials may not be willing to grant asylum to anyone who didn’t apply for it in the first year in the United States, or anyone who has committed crimes and may be considered a threat.

3) Cancellation of Removal

Cancellation of removal occurs when the immigration judge halts the deportation process. Green card holders are eligible for cancellation of removal if they have been in the country legally for seven years and have a clean record.

Immigrants who are not lawful permanent residents may qualify for a cancellation of removal if they:

  • Have been in the US for 10 years
  • Have not been served with a previous Notice to Appear
  • Have not committed any crimes
  • Prove that they are of “good moral character”
  • Show that their deportation would cause extreme hardship to their family

The deportation process is a serious one, and immigrants should know that there are options available.

Hiring a reliable immigration lawyer is the best way to handle the deportation process.


About the Photo:
Ellis Island


8 Responses to “The Deportation Process for US Immigrants”

  1. douglas Says:

    I gotta deported from usa 2 months ago because of DUI after live in usa for 10 the question is is there any possibility of me to apply for a pardon???

  2. ignacio Says:

    I went to jail for a crime that i didn’t commit , after going to trial i got a misdemeanor count 240, i went to immigration office (Removal proceedings) because they suppose to give me back my green card and drivers license , surprisingly they gave me back my drivers license (suspended)and a white paper indicating that im in the process of getting deported, im suppose to get a citation for first hearing, but i cant do nothing, my social security number doesn’t work, and neither my drivers license, i had my green card since 2009 but i been in the country since 2003, i always been legal and with no problems, tickets, or records. I know years ago the charge 240(minor offense) was consider a reason to be deported even knowing that is a misdemeanor but the law change after June 2013, and is no longer deport-able, what can i do about this, if the law is not getting apply the right way on my case? thx for your prompt response

  3. Edward Says:

    I have 2 prior convictions and they were both felonies. I’ve did several traveling a outside the US even though I was told not to by the lawyers. The last time I went to China a month ago and was detained by the border police. They took away my greencard and I need to appear in court but they told me it wasn’t a immigration court. I wish to know what will be happen next!

  4. buster Says:

    I hate this country because it let my dad who is an illegal alien stay in this country and abuse my whole family including me. He has abused us physically, verbally and emotionally and I am 15 and my whole childhood has been torture. I can’t believe I have to stay with him until I am 18. My mom is depressed and tortured and my sister cries all the time.

  5. randy ausbo rn Says:

    My wife a green card holder she clime o hit her but did not.if I did she need not police but medical aid.she just use me for green card.she not a wife.she naver help me medical at all

  6. AMIRI Says:

    was removed in August 1999 after 4years in Federal prIson.Convicted for an aggravated felony.Had my green card, have 2 citizens children . when can I come back to the US

  7. Shina Says:

    Hi Amiri,

    I am sorry to hear the news. I have had a family member in same situation and as far as I know will take up to 10 yrs to re-apply for a visa.

    Best of luck

  8. Allison Says:

    Hi my boyfriend friend is locked up for a year for a felony charge. He has a green card. Is the process long for it to occur? I would just like as much information as possible thanks.

Leave a Reply

  • USCIS Office Locator

    Search for an USCIS Office near you.

  • Find Attorneys

  • Search for an attorney. With 1000's of registered attorneys in our database, you'll find one that matches your location and needs.