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The Removal Process

For many immigrants, the deportation (or "removal") process can be scary. If the procedure ends badly, the non-citizen will be forced to leave the United States along with all of the business and personal relationships he may have formed there. Like all other aspects of the immigration system, removal from the U.S. involves a complex set of rules and procedures. These rules may make the procedure harder to understand, but it also means that the non-resident has a chance to defend himself. This section describes the removal process and contains information on obtaining relief from removal and delaying removal proceedings.

Discretionary Relief

Many forms of relief available to those in removal proceedings are "discretionary." This means that the immigration judge has broad authority to choose to grant or deny requests; usually to be forgiven for a violation of the immigration laws. To receive this type of relief, the burden of proof is on the alien to show that they are both eligible and merit the favorable exercise of discretion.

This typically requires proof that the individual has good moral character, significant connections within the United States, and that the hardship their resident or citizen family members would suffer is in excess of the hardship that normally occurs when someone is removed.

The 601 Waiver

Individuals whose qualifying family members would experience extreme hardship as a result of their removal from the country may qualify of a waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility. The "601 Waiver" may cure bars relating to prior unlawful presence and some criminal convictions.

Extreme hardship in the context of the 601 Waiver refers to hardship beyond the typical effects of a person's removal. The hardship of separation from family and financial strain are typically not enough to qualify for the waiver. Serious medical conditions or extreme conditions in the country of removal are factors that may help establish extreme hardship.

Cancellation of Removal

The application for Cancellation of Removal is one of the most misunderstood forms of relief in the immigration system. Rumors circulate that after 10 years a person can be permitted to stay in the United States. This is only partially true.

There are different criteria for victims of domestic violence, residents, and non-residents seeking cancellation. Each form of relief requires that the applicant establish continuous physical presence in the United States for a period of time and show they have not been convicted of an offense that would render them ineligible. And in the case of nonresidents, they must also show good moral character and exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to their immediate family members. Cancellation of removal also requires that the judge exercise their discretion in granting relief.

Learn About The Removal Process