If you or someone you know has been arrested or placed in proceedings by immigration officials, it is very important to speak with a lawyer as early as possible.
There are many ways of fighting to prevent being deported or removed from the United States. In many situations you can ask an Immigration Judge to allow you to live in the United States.
Bond/Custody Redetermination Hearings
A person who is arrested and detained or held in jail by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) is entitled to a bond hearing. At a bond hearing, you can challenge ICE’s decision to detain you. You may request to speak with an Immigration Judge. You may request to be released from detention. Depending on the reason for the arrest, not everyone can be released. But many individuals are eligible to be released on bond, and sometimes no bond is required.
Our law firm has many years of experience successfully freeing individuals from immigration custody.
Deportation and Removal Proceedings
When the government believes someone is in the United States without authorization, it may initiate “removal proceedings” against that person. In removal proceedings, an Immigration Judge decides whether the person is authorized to stay in the United States. In some cases, the Immigration Judge will order the person to leave the United States and return to their home country. But there are many defenses to removal. You can fight your case and ask to be allowed to stay in the United States, even if you did not enter legally.
Some of the applications you can submit if you are in removal proceedings include:
Asylum is an immigration benefit offered by the United States to individuals who are in danger of persecution in their home country. It can provide relief from deportation or removal and lead to permanent legal residence in the United States. If you are afraid to return to your home country because of a threat of persecution, you may be eligible for asylum allowing you to remain in the United States.
When you submit an application for asylum, you have the option of applying for two other similar forms of relief: Withholding of Removal, and Relief under the Convention Against Torture. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be eligible for one or more of these forms of relief.
Please see our Asylum section to learn more.
Cancellation of Removal
Cancellation of Removal is an application that provides relief from removal to individuals who have lived in the United States for long periods of time. There are different types of Cancellation of Removal applications, depending on whether you are a permanent resident, a non-permanent resident, a victim of domestic violence, and other factors. If your application is successful, you will be allowed to live in the United States as a permanent resident.
Please see our Cancellation of Removal section to learn more.
Adjustment of Status
Sometimes individuals become eligible to “adjust” or change their status – from illegal to legal – while removal proceedings are pending. One example (although there are many more situations where this occurs) is the case of a person getting married to a U.S. citizen while in removal proceedings. If you become eligible to adjust status while in removal proceedings, you can ask an Immigration Judge to adjust your status and close your removal proceedings, allowing you to become a permanent resident.
You can learn more about Adjustment of Status generally in our Family-Based Immigration section.
U Nonimmigrant Status
If you are a non-citizen living in the United States and you were the victim of a crime, you may be eligible for immigration benefits. Such victims can file their own petition and request a U visa to live legally in the United States. U visas are usually granted for four years and U visa holders are eligible to apply for permanent resident status.
An application for a U visa is not filed with the Immigration Court. It is filed with USCIS, which handles many immigration applications. If an individual files an application for a U visa during removal proceedings, he or she can request that their proceedings be delayed while the U visa application is being decided by USCIS.
Please see our U Nonimmigrant Status section to learn more about U visas.
Sometimes there is no legal option to remain in the United States. Unfortunately, some individuals in removal proceedings receive orders of removal requiring them to leave the United States. If you are ordered removed, it can be more difficult to legally move to the United States in the future (although in many cases waivers or pardons are available). In order to avoid an order of removal, some individuals may request Voluntary Departure, which allows them to leave the United States with a clean record, preserving the option of immigrating to the United States legally in the future.