US Deportation and Violations of Immigration Laws

The government can start the removal process.

If you are legally defined as an alien under US law, the government can expel you from the US for various violations of immigration laws.
The US government can start the removal process (formerly called “deportation”) for several reasons. For example, if:

  • Your temporary visa has expired.
  • You have entered the country illegally.
  • You have committed a crime.

You may be able to seek a waiver of removal in some circumstances, but some grounds for deportation cannot be waived.

What Happens When the US Government Seeks to Deport You?

The US government must serve you with proper notice. That will give you time to appear before an immigration judge. You will be asked to admit or deny that you are subject to deportation, and you will have an opportunity for a hearing before the judge.
Even if you admit that there are grounds to deport you, you can ask for certain types of relief, such as asylum. You may qualify for asylum if:

  • you have been in the US for less than one year; and
  • you can show that you have been persecuted in the past or have a well-founded fear of persecution in your home country because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

You are no longer removable if the judge grants asylum, and you may apply for a green card one year later.
You may also be able to claim exceptional hardship for your immediate family. You may qualify if:

  • you are of good moral character
  • you have lived in the US for at least 10 years and
  • you have a spouse or children who are US citizens or lawful permanent residents.

If you get relief from deportation you may be able to get your green card if the visa is still available. A certain number of people annually can get these visas.
If you can be deported because of a crime, you might be able to seek a waiver in a few circumstances; however, you must show that the positive factors of staying in the country outweigh the crime.

Should You Voluntarily Leave?

In some cases you may want to voluntarily leave the US.
This may make it easier to obtain a visa to reenter the country in the future. If you are deported by the US government, at its expense rather than your own, you are barred from re-entering the country for five years (or 20 years if convicted of an aggravated felony).

What Can Happen if You Fail to Appear at a US Deportation Hearing?

A removal order may be entered in your absence. If this happens, you cannot seek some types of relief from removal for 10 years.
For more visa and immigration information, please visit Legal Language Services.

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