What Should I Do if I Think I Am Going to be Deported?

Even the mere threat of deportation can be terrifying. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) can come knocking at any moment and if you do not have proper paperwork or documentation showing you are legally allowed to be in the country, you could face deportation. Read further for the answers to common questions about deportation to see what action you can take to help protect your status.

Why Could I Be Deported?

There are many reasons why a person may face deportation. You may have overstayed your visa, committed a crime, or ICE could deem you a threat to others or to national security.

When you are in the U.S. on a visa, there are certain ground rules you must follow in order to maintain that status. For example, if you are here on a student visa but have graduated and not started the process of converting your visa to a work visa, ICE could eventually learn of this issue and seek to deport you.

What Starts the Deportation Process?

In some cases, you will receive notice of a deportation order or a summons to appear in immigration court. The notice you receive will give you details about why deportation is sought as well as when you need to appear in court.

If you are deemed to be dangerous or a threat to others, the government will not alert you to deportation and will instead simply show up at your door to arrest you. When a person has committed a crime, they are usually kept in a deportation center while their criminal matter is resolved. Once resolved, they may then be deported without delay.

If I Know I Need To Leave, Can I Do So On My Own?

If you know that you are in the country without proper documentation and know that you will deported, you have the option to leave voluntarily. This can be a way to speed up the process and make it less contentious.

Be aware that choosing to leave on your own could have ramifications: depending on the reason for leaving, you may have to admit that you were in the country without documentation and waive your right to ever re-enter. Consider all of your options and speak with an immigration attorney to help you make the best decision you can.

How Can I Stay in The Country Legally?

If you have overstayed a visa, an immigration judge may allow you to adjust your status and become a legal resident. Having a family member in the U.S. who already holds permanent resident or citizenship status will help you make your case to the immigration court.

In other circumstances, if you are afraid to return to your prior country because of a real and serious threat against your safety, you may be able to seek asylum. This is a difficult and complex legal process that will require legal guidance.

What If the Judge Says No?

If an immigration judge rules against you and says you do not have legal grounds to remain in the country, that is not necessarily the final word. You have 30 days to file an appeal in immigration court.

Your appeal will then go to the Board of Immigration Appeals and if they uphold the immigration judge’s ruling that you should be deported, you can appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals in the district where your deportation is occurring. While appeals can take time and require lots of evidence and documentation, you always have the right to challenge an immigration judge’s ruling when you think it was wrong.

Can I Apply for Readmission If I Am Deported?

If you are being deported because of a violent crime and your deportation order is upheld, you will probably not be allowed to reapply for entry into the U.S.

If you are being deported because of an honest error or because you simply overstayed your visa, you will probably be allowed to reapply for admission into the country. Be aware that there may be a set amount of time you have to wait before you can reapply. The amount of time you need to wait will depend on the reason for your deportation.

What If I Am a U.S. Citizen?

If you have received U.S. citizenship status, you cannot be deported. There has been some error made and you need to seek immediate legal assistance to have the matter corrected.

If you were born in the U.S., including Puerto Rico, or if you were born outside the U.S. to at least one parent who was a U.S. citizen at the time of your birth, or meet certain other criteria, you are a U.S. citizen and you cannot be deported. The law around citizenship is complicated and you may meet citizenship requirements without even realizing it.

Can I Request Cancellation of Removal?

Possibly.  Cancellation of Removal is a formal defense to deportation.

Eligibility requirements differ between aliens who are lawful permanent residents (green card holders) and those who are non-permanent residents.

To be eligible for cancellation of removal, a permanent resident must show that they: 

  • has been a lawful permanent resident for at least five years, 
  • has continuously resided in the United States for at least seven years, and 
  • has not been convicted of an aggravated felony. 

Non-permanent residents must establish that they:

  • has been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of 10 years 
  • has been of good moral character during the 10-year period, 
  • has not been convicted of select criminal offenses, and
  • that removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to a relative who is the non-immigrant alien’s spouse, parent, or child and who is a citizen of the U.S. or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence.

If you meet these qualifications, you may be eligible to have your deportation canceled, but proving this requires more than simply telling a judge that you meet these qualifications. You will need to collect documentation to show that you absolutely meet the requirements and are eligible to have your deportation order canceled. You will also need to have witnesses speak on your behalf about your good character.

A Philadelphia Immigration Lawyer at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Helps You Address Challenging Situations

The threat of deportation can be daunting, but there are steps you can take to protect your rights. Speak with a Philadelphia immigration lawyer at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Call us today at 215-925-4435 or contact us online to schedule your consultation with our experienced immigration legal team. With offices in Philadelphia, we proudly serve Philadelphia, as well as clients across the country.