Deportation (also called "removal") occurs when the federal government formally removes an alien from the United States for violations of a number of immigration or criminal laws, described in more detail below. Once deported, an alien may lose the right to ever return to the United States, even as a visitor.
Removal is a legal proceeding, and an alien who is subject to this procedure has legal rights prior to being removed from the country, including the right to challenge the removal itself on procedural or constitutional grounds. Following is a discussion of the removal process.
Classes of Deportable Aliens
Any alien that is in the United States may be subject to deportation or removal if he or she:
- Is an inadmissible alien according to immigration laws in effect at the time of entry to the U.S. or adjustment of nonimmigrant status;
- Is present in the U.S. in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act or any other U.S. law;
- Violated nonimmigrant status or a condition of entry into the U.S.;
- Terminated a conditional permanent residence;
- Encouraged or aided any other alien to enter the U.S. illegally;
- Engaged in marriage fraud to gain admission to the U.S.;
- Was convicted of certain criminal offenses;
- Failed to register or falsified documents relating to entry in to the U.S.;
- Engaged in any activity that endangers public safety or creates a risk of national security; or
- Engaged in unlawful voting.
Deportation or Removal Process
- A Notice to Appear (NTA) is issued by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, served to the alien, and filed with the immigration court. In addition to containing general information about the immigrant (name, country of origin, etc.), the NTA also states the reasons for the deportation or removal.
- A hearing is scheduled, at which the immigration judge asks if the alien is ready to proceed with the case, or if he or she needs time to secure an attorney. If the alien needs time to secure an attorney, a hearing is scheduled for a later date.
- Once the alien has an attorney, or has elected to proceed without one, the alien will be asked by the immigration judge to verify the contents of the NTA.
- If the judge determines that the information in the NTA is correct and that the alien can be deported, the alien is given the opportunity to apply for any form of relief from deportation. If the alien is eligible for a form of relief and decides to apply for it, an individual hearing date is scheduled. If the alien is not eligible, deportation will be ordered.
- If an individual hearing is held, the alien will be given the opportunity to give testimony and have witnesses testify on his or her behalf. At the conclusion of the hearing, the immigration judge will either make an oral decision on the matter, or will release a written decision at a later date.
- If the alien has been ordered deported, the alien has 30 days from the date of the decision to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). If the BIA decides against the alien, the alien has the option of appealing to the appropriate U.S. Court of Appeals. The immigration service has the opportunity to appeal an unfavorable individual hearing decision, but may not appeal an unfavorable decision by the BIA. An appellate court decision can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court by either the alien or the immigration service.
Getting Legal Help with a Deportation or Removal Issue
If you or a loved one is facing a potential deportation or removal, it is important that you speak with an experienced immigration attorney to discuss the facts of your case and protect your legal rights.