Removal Proceedings

Removal proceedings used to be called “deportation proceedings” or “exclusion proceedings.”

Removal proceedings are used by Immigration to try to deport noncitizens Immigration believes is not entitled to stay in the US, or to keep out noncitizens people that Immigration believes do not have a right to enter the US.

Removal proceedings take place in special Immigration Courts located in many states in the US. An immigration judge shall conduct proceedings for deciding the inadmissibility or deportability of an alien.

Immigration begins removal proceedings against many types of noncitizens, including:

  • noncitizens who are trying to enter the US that Immigration believes are not entitled to enter (because they do not have a visa, they have fraudulent travel documents, or other reasons);
  • temporary visa holders who entered the US legally, but whose visa has expired;
  • noncitizens who entered the US without going through Immigration inspection, for example, by crossing illegally over the Canadian or Mexican border, and who are later found by Immigration;
  • noncitizens who apply for immigration benefits such as permanent residency or political asylum, or Naturalization (to become a US citizen) whose applications are denied by Immigration (with rare exceptions);
  • noncitizens who do not leave the US after Temporary Protected Status for nationals of their countries ends;
  • lawful permanent residents who have violated the immigration laws, for example, by committing crimes in the US, or by remaining outside of the US for extended periods,
  • and others.

Options for a person in removal proceedings:

  • Some noncitizens who have been in the United States for 7 or 10 years or more may be able to apply for their residency in removal proceedings by applying for “cancellation of removal”. (Certain victims of domestic violence may apply for “cancellation” if they have been in the US for 3 years). They will also have to convince the immigration judge that they have US citizen or permanent resident children, spouses or parents who would be severely harmed if they could not stay in the US, and that they have been people of good moral character.
  • A person who fears she will be harmed based on her race, religion, political opinion, nationality or membership in a “particular social group” if she were to be deported to her home country may be able to apply for asylum and“withholding of removal”or for a stay of deportation under the Torture Convention.
  • Noncitizens who may be eligible to immigrate on some other basis at the time Immigration begins removal proceedings against them may be able to apply to the immigration judge for residency. For example, a person who is unlawfully present but who is already married to a US citizenat the time removal proceedings are begun may be able to apply to adjust to resident status in front of the immigration judge based on the marriage, if Immigration approves a visa petition filed by the US citizen spouse.

Many noncitizens in removal proceedings simply will have no legal way to stay in the US. Those persons can usually ask the immigration judge for “voluntary departure” – permission to leave voluntarily within 120 days rather than be deported by the US government. Voluntary departure is always better than a deportation order, since deportation can cause several problems for a person who hopes to return to the US in the future. For example, a person who is ordered deported ordinarily can’t return to the US for 10 years without getting special INS permission. A person who leaves voluntarily can return at any time that s/he gets a legal visa to return from a US consulate.

When an individual is determined to be inadmissible or removable from the US, a waiver or an application for relief from removal may be available to allow him/her to enter or remain in the United States. Our attorney can:

  • Determine eligibility for a waiver and assist in the preparation of the application;
  • Represent individuals that have been placed in removal or deportation proceedings, including those who are in immigration detention facilities;
  • Assist clients seeking relief from removal through cancellation of removal, asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the UN’s Convention against Torture (CAT).

Our attorneys maintain an active court docket before the Executive Office for Immigration Review and have successfully appealed cases to the Board of Immigration Appeals and the Federal Courts.